The last time we heard from the David and Annie Rothman (Rock and Roots) was July 31 and they were in Great Barrington, Massachusetts about 1,517 miles along the Appalachian Trail. The most recent update starts on August 4 and runs through August 12. The details are a little sketchy but let me provide a synopsis of their journey.
From July 31 to August 4, Rock and Roots hiked 38.6 miles They walked along the mighty Housatonic River and the calm and peaceful Upper Goose Pond. I stayed at the Upper Goose Pond Cabin during my thru-hike, but I have no idea if Rock and Roots did the same. On August 4 we find the couple visiting the Cookie Lady (mile 1555.7), a wonderful trail angel that hand delivers homemade cookies to the thru-hikers. Her home is just 100 yards east of the trail and serves as a common rest area for hikers. They continued on to Dalton, MA, where they enjoyed a free shower at the rec. center. They extended their hike to their destination – Crystal Mountain campsite (mile – 1569.4)
August 5 – Roots fell early in the day and injured her heel. She was able to continue hiking but it was sore throughout the next few days. The couple hiked up Mt Graylock (1582.4)and climbed the 86 steps up into the observatory for a great view of the surrounding area. They continued their hike and ended camping at Mount Williams (1584.7) for a 15.3-mile day.
August 6 – Rock and Roots traveled through Williamstown, MA, (1588.7) and into Vermont (1592.8) and beyond the 1600-mile marker. They camped near the Congdon Shelter (1602.8) for an 18.1-mile day.
August 7 – Very few details for today. They stopped at the Melville Nauheim Shelter and visited with fellow hikers Goose Bumps and Hot Springs. They enjoyed a dinner near a mountain brook (1610.3) and made camp at Porcupine Ridge (1611.3), for a daily total of 8.5 miles.
August 8 has no entry and August 9 shares that Roots had a slow start to the day. I am putting two and two together (low mileage on the 7th, no entry on the 8th, and a slow start on the 9th) and am wondering if Root’s heal is hurting and slowing the progress a little bit. Today’s hike included a climb up Stratton Mountain (1700 ft assent) and then a descent (1300 ft) to Stratton Pond. They commented that the lookout tower on top of Stratton Mountain (1633.5) was covered in clouds, and they enjoyed their lunch beside a nice stream. They made their way to Prospect Rock (1642.3) and a great view of Manchester Center, VT: their destination for August 9. They camped at Spruce Peak Shelter (mile 1644.4).
August 10 has no entry, but the assumption is that Rock and Roots hiked the 3 miles into Manchester Center in order to resupply and rest.
August 11 shares that the couple left a hostel around 9:00 am and continued their hike of the AT. They hiked up Bromley Mountain (1650.2) and discover that the mountain is a snow skiing location with ski lifts. They walked over Styles Peak (1654.3), Peru Peak (1656), down to Griffith Lake (1657.8), back up to Baker Peak (1659.9), and ended their day at Lost Pond Shelter (1662.0) for a 14.8-mile adventure filled with ups and downs and beautiful things to see.
August 12 was the last day recorded in this recent post. Rock and Roots started their day at Lost Pond Shelter (1662.0). They had traveled another 14.9 miles as they made camp at the Minerva Hinchey Shelter (1676.9). This shelter was built in 1969 and then renovated in 2006, this shelter is named in honor of the late Minerva Hinchey – longtime recording secretary of the Green Mountain Club, who served for 22 years. The shelter is designed to sleep 10.
Rock and Roots are in my prayers as they continue to hike NOBO toward Maine. They have another 66 miles in Vermont and then they enter New Hampshire and the White Mountains.
Bad news – The online journal of thru-hiker Mileage remains silent. Her last post was over a month ago, July 1.
Good news – Rock and Roots have updated their journal and brought us up to July 31st .
Bad News – The journal of Rock and Roots is not very specific on the destinations and mileage accomplished each day and there two big gaps in their journey. However, let me share what I know for sure and leave most of the speculations alone.
July 11 – Rocks and Roots arrived a Delaware Water Gap on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. During the next five days they hiked through New Jersey (73.6 miles) and entered the state of New York on July 16. During this trek, they experienced the blessings of trail magic (free food offered by trail angels) three days in a row. They also experienced a major issue with mosquitoes to the point of packing up their stuff inside their tent before dropping their tent and breaking camp. They reported seeing two porcupines along the trail. They also visited the Mohican Outdoor Center (1300-mile marker) and enjoyed some vegetarian food.
The next six days are blank in their journal, but they report arriving at the Appalachian Trail Railroad Station (mile 1444.8) on July 23 with plans to take the train on July 24 into New York City and Manhattan Island. They pitched their tent at a camping area behind the Native Landscapes and Garden Center just down the road from the Railroad platform.
Three days later, July 28, is the next journal entry. Rock and Roots shared that they woke up at Caesar Brook campsite (mile 1476.0) in Connecticut and trekked to Limestone Spring Shelter, also in Connecticut. They ran into a trail maintenance crew working hard building rock steps. Later they encountered a lovely waterfall and soaked their feet in a cool pool. This was a 15.6-mile hike. The journal also shared that Roots has unfortunately been struggling with stressful emotions this week.
On July 29, the couple left Limestone Spring Shelter, walked to Salisbury, CT (which is just 0.5 miles off the AT), enjoyed some time in this quiet, upscale community, and then continued to hike into Massachusetts camping at Glen Brook Shelter. They summited Bear Mountain, the highest peak along the AT in Connecticut. They were thrilled to enter the state of Massachusetts, cross over the 1500-mile marker, and complete an 18-mile day.
Rock and Roots planned a short day on July 30. Their 8-mile trek ended at US 7 which crosses over the AT. They were able to get a free ride into the town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. They also took a zero day in Great Barrington on July 31, as they focused on refueling, resupplying, and refreshing. They took a trip into town and were entertained by street performers. They mentioned be enthralled with Wacky Chad and his performance. I have included a picture of Wacky Chad and encourage you to check him out on YouTube.
So, Rock and Roots have hiked through New Jersey (73.6 miles), New York ( 88.3 miles), and Connecticut (another 50.6 miles) for a total of 212.5 miles of trail. Rocks and Roots hiked this distance in 20 days, averaging 9.92 miles a day.
I wish I had a better update on the three thru-hikers that we are following, but silence continues to be the norm on their online journals.
I have heard nothing from Nancy, trail name: Mileage, since July 1st.
Rock and Roots have only made one entry since the last update. They did post on July 11, so let me catch you up on this huge hiking day for them, realizing that it is 18 days old. Their hiking adventure on July 11 involved a marathon. They logged in 26.2 miles, ending their day in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. The Delaware Water Gap is a true water gap on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The thru-hiker is only a bridge-walk away from leaving the rocks of Pennsylvania and discovering the rocks of New Jersey.
Rocks and Roots started their hike at 7:20 am. and arrived at Delaware Water Gap (DWG) around 6:00 pm. They have been slack packing, so at least they did not have to carry their heavy packs. They walked today with three other hikers: Tinder, Hook, and Ripper. It happened to be Rocks birthday, so the hikers celebrated upon arrival in DWG with some good food and a visit to the only sake distillery in Pennsylvania. The brewery is called Sango Kura. Sango is the name of the owner’s daughter and is Japanese for coral. Kura simply means brewery. They also ordered some chips and salsa.
Roots found some vegan ice cream (most likely at Zoe’s Ice Cream) and grabbed a matcha green tea latte from Dunkin’ while Rock, who was disappointed in the chips and salsa, ordered a pizza. Everyone stayed at “the hiker center in town.” There is one major hiker center that I remember in DWG and it is The Church of the Mountain Hostel. This is where I stayed as well, and it has a bunkroom and showers. I remember it being very homey and comfortable, but then again, I had just completed Pennsylvania and was still thrilled to be on the Appalachian Trail.
You can tell by the details shared by Rocks and Roots how important food is to the thru-hiker. It is a thought that dominates the day, especially when a town is on the agenda. After lodging is taken care of, food was the number one concern – lots of it and lots of calories and protein (in that order).
There is no update from Mileage but Rock and Roots have share some news on their thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
The last journal post of Rock and Roots was June 2, 2021. After waiting for several weeks, an update has been posted. The Rothman’s (David and Annie), trail names Rocks and Roots, updated their online journal through Thursday, June 10. Each post is rather short but let me interpret the best I can.
The couple hiked into Waynesboro, VA. during the evening hours of June 3. They arrived in need of some rest and resupply. They ended up spending four additional days in Waynesboro (June 4, 5, 6, & 7). There are no details about the four-day respite. When they left Waynesboro on the 8th, Root’s parents showed up with lots of food for the journey ahead, so maybe there was a multiple day family visit.
Their first day back of the trail was rather short – 8 miles – from Waynesboro to Calf Mountain Shelter. About 4:30 a thunderstorm greeted them back to the AT. They quickly pulled out their rain gear and continued to hike. The path turned into a stream soaking their feet. Fortunately, the storm only last about 20 minutes. They saw a deer and two rabbits along the trail today. After making it to the shelter, they hung the food in the trees and set up their tent. Tomorrow looks like rain as well but they hope to hike 13 miles.
June 9 started at Calf Mountain Shelter and by design the couple made the 13 miles trek to Blackrock Hut. Rock and Roots woke up, had a good breakfast, pack up their tent, filled their water bottles at a near by spring and hit the trail. During the day they took ma break every two miles due to the weight of their backpacks (one of the few disadvantages of food). They stopped for lunch (a vegan jerky with olives on small tortillas) and continues on listening to an audio book and making plans for visiting home when they reach Harpers Ferry, WV. They arrived at Blackrock a little after 5:00. They successful set up in the shelter and enjoyed mash-up dinner (black bean potato and beet and cauliflower and kale burritos).
The journal post for June 10th shares no hiking details but rather a list of thru-hikers they met along the way: Trapper (from Vermont), John (section hiker), Hikes Pocus (from Florida), Yet (lives in Yellowstone), Popcorn, Two Socks, Skeeter, Sammy, Washer (from Orlando). They ended the list with the statement that they got a shower at the camp store and rested for a while. This is most likely a camp store along the Skyline Drive.
I am more than a little concerned about the online journals for Mileage and The Rothman’s (Rock and Roots). I am hopeful that they are still on the trail, but the last post form Mileage was April 28th (over a month ago) and the Rothman’s checked in on May 19th (silence for two weeks). Most of my concern lies in the difficulties in catching up on a journal as well as getting out of the habit of the daily discipline of recording the journey. It is simply not easy to journal after a long day on the trail. After you set up camp, get some nourishment in your very hungry body, and take a load off your feet, the motivation to sit down and write about the day can sometime be quite low. The after a week of silence, how do you remember where you’ve been, how many miles you hiked each day, what the weather was like, and the highlights of particular day’s journey?
Now there is a possibility that the hikers have been making paper/pencil notes each evening and are just waiting for a zero day to update online. Sometimes the internet connection is weal or non-existent and the hiker needs to wait to upload in an upcoming town. There is also the possibility of a failure in technology – a broken or lost smartphone or maybe a dead battery without a power source for recharging.
All of that to say, I do not have an update this week from the Application Trail. If the journals are silent again this week, I will need to find a different prompt for Thursdays. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions. I was thinking about contacting some of my AT trail buddies and giving you an update on their lives, seven years after our adventure. That won’t take too many weeks to exhaust my contacts, but it would be good for me to hear from them.
Or I could tell some trail jokes. Like: How do you recognize a thru-hiker in a restaurant on the trail?:
They have three plates overflowing with food. And then ask for four desserts.
You don’t have to see them, you can smell them.
They lean slightly forward but they are not carrying a backpack.
They have a huge smile on the face, despite the drool escaping from the side of their mouth.
They get eight refills on their sodas before the appetizer arrives.
All of the above.
I’m sorry that is not a joke….just observation and experience.
Here’s one: Mountains aren’t just funny, they’re hill areas.
Let me provide a quick update on the Thru-hikers I am following this year. I started the season following eight hikers that all began their journeys in the middle of March. The eights hikers are reduced to three. One solo hiker, Mileage, and one couple, Rock and Roots.
Mileage has been silent for several weeks. She finally posted but it only provided an update for two additional days of adventure (April 26, 27)
April 26 – Blocks of Ice to Warm Toes
It was a very cold start to the day on the summit of Unaka Mountain about 14 miles from Erwin, Tennessee. Mileage began her day hiking with her feet feeling like “blocks of ice”. However, the sun began to shine and the trail descended 1200’ from almost 5200’ to 4000’. The temperatures began to warm up and the majority of the day was comfortable. Mileage stopped for water at Cherry Gap Shelter then continued to Iron Mountain Gap where she was greeted with Trail Blessing Gatorade, fruit, and Cheetos (the three basic food groups for hikers)
After hiking 12. 5 miles, Mileage arrived at Clyde Smith Shelter fairly early in the afternoon but the next shelter was 8 miles away and Mileage was tired so she called it a day. She enjoyed a dinner chatting with other hikers at the shelter. As the sun decided to set below the horizon, Mileage comments in her journal that the moonlight was so bright that it was like daylight in her tent. No rain today and the temperature going to sleep was comfortable.
April 27 – A Scent of Pine
Mileage was out of camp at 8:00a as the day started crisp and sunny. The first 2.5 miles was a steep climb and then a descent into Hughes Gap, but it traveled through a beautiful pine forest, shaded and filled with the fresh scent of pine.
Hiking out of Hughes Gap involved a challenging, five-mile ascent of 2100’ up to Roan High Knob. The summit turned into the descent into Carvers Gap and more Trail Blessing (food, drink and even toilet paper). Mileage experienced some wind as she hiked over two gorgeous bald (Round Bald and Jane Bald) before walking down to Stand Murray Shelter (her destination or the day – 13.7 miles for the day) about 4:30 in the afternoon. There were several thru-hikers at the Shelter and she had a good visit around the picnic table before calling it a night.
There is an editor’s note on Mileage’s journal:
Sincere apologies on lack of updates and will post several days at a time tocatch up. Mileage’s hike continues and all is well.
Rock and Roots
This couple, David and Annie Rothman, are over a week behind in their trail journal with the last post being made on May 19. The couple have been slackpacking but their journal is not providing good information to track their daily progress. However, let me share with you what I have been able to deduce. Rock and Roots were camped close to O’Lystery Pavilion off VA 42 about 12 min. north of Adkins VA. on May 13, 2021.
Two days later (May 15) they made it to Bland, Virginia, and stayed at the Big Walker Hotel (a small hotel that I visited in 2014 a well). They made some arrangements at this point to do some slackpacking, but it is unclear as to where they hiked to each day or where they spent the night. The last entry of the journal places them at Cross Avenue. Cross Avenue is a paved road also known as VA 634. This road crosses the AT at the bottom of long hill and it is located on the edge of Pearisburg, VA. It is unclear if they stayed the night in Pearisburg or if they were picked up at Cross Avenue by those who are providing the slack packing service and transported to area.
Roots records in the journal on May 19 the following insight that provide some details in their preparation for the next day (May 20): “Once we got down from the mountain Mongo picked us up and took us to food lion to pick up some dinner. We also got some food to make breakfast and energy balls in the am before we head back out to the trail and continue on the adventure.”
As of May 19th, Rock and Roots (David and Annie) have been on the trail for 64 days and have traveled 631 miles of the Appalachian Trail. They are in Virginia and will be in Virginia for a while – they must hike another 386 miles before they walk their last mile of the Old Dominion State. Yes, there are over 553 miles of the AT in the state of Virginia! Some hikers experience the “Virginia Blues” while hiking so many miles in one state. I actually divided the state into three sections and pretended it was three separate states: Southern Virginia, Middle Earth Virginia, and Doah Virginian (for the Shenandoah National Park). Just that crazy idea helped me tackle the 550 mile challenge without discouragement or the blues.
I hope I will have a better update next week as I prayerfully follow this amazing hikers from Georgia to Maine.
Pippi started her attempt of a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on March 16; Dave and Annie Rothman (Rock and Roots) stepped out one day later (March 17); and The Hoot, a team of five women, began their adventure on March 21. Pippi’s last post was on March 30. The Hoot started this week down from five to two women: Five Pair and Mileage. Both Rock and Roots are still moving forward. Here is a quick summary of the online journals submitted by these brave hikers as they have experienced a very cold and wet spring.
The Rothman’s: Rock and Roots
April 16 – Bears in the camp!
Rock and Roots and those camped around the Groundhog Creek Shelter in Deep Gap were awakened several times during the night with a visitation of a family of bears. Some hikers lost their food bags hanging in the trees and they all joined together in the morning to clean up the forest of the “hiker trash” distributed by momma and baby bears.
Shortly after the day’s hike began, Rock and Roots encountered a wonderful Trail Blessing – hot coffee, fresh produce, veggie soup, and vegan cheese and crackers. Rock and Roots made it to Max Patch early in the day and enjoyed the incredible view it offers. They ended their day at Walnut Mountain Shelter having trekked 13.1 miles and hopefully leaving the bear cubs behind.
April 17 – Trail Blessing
No bears last night. Rock and Roots got on the trail about 8:30. They noticed the transformation of the forest as the flowers are beginning to bloom with color. About lunch time they encountered a great expression of Trail Blessing. A huge spread from breakfast waffles to burgers, along with a table of snacks. They ate well and picked up some nut bars and oranges for the trail.
After hiking 9.9 miles, they arrived at their planned destination (Deer Park Mountain Shelter). They arrived before 3 pm and had plenty of time to rest and settle in. They even took the time for some tea and coffee before dinner. A small rain shower said “hi” as they prepared for their night’s rest. They have plans for a short 3.5-mile jaunt tomorrow into the trail town of Hot Springs, NC
April 18 – Hot Springs
Rock and Roots along with a number of thru-hiker buddies got an Air B & B house in Hot springs. The hikers hiked the 3.5 miles into the trail town and arrived in the morning, just in time for the local brewery to open. It was packed with hikers and was quite a hit – the Taco bar was the spot of choice for lunch.
Rock and Roots completed shopping for their resupply including food for a nice breakfast and a special pasta dinner for Monday. Check-in at the Air B&B was at 4:00 pm, leading to a refreshing shower and the use of the washing machine for their clothes. Dinner was served at the Iron Horse followed by a soak in the Hot Springs at 9:30. Thru-hiking can be so difficult.
April 19 – Zero = Rest
The day was spent in Hot Springs resting and enjoying the town.
April 20 – Fantastic Lookout Tower
After a nice stay in Hot Springs, Rock and Roots and their buddies (often referred to as “tramily” – trail family) all hiked out together. After a few miles they were all spread out along the trail enjoying a sunny day. They took a short side trail later in the day to the Rich Mountain Lookout Tower and took some video of the amazing views. After a 10.7-mile day, they ended up at Spring Mountain Shelter around 5:15, having ample time to set up their tent, make some dinner, and play a couple of games of chess with fellow thru-hikers before crashing for the night.
April 21 – 300 Big Ones
The goal today for Rock and Roots was the 300 mile marker and the Jerry Cabin Shelter which is located at 300.3 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia. They woke early and packed quickly because of the rain. After arriving at the Little Laurel Shelter (a memory for me of my 21st night on the trail) the rain had stopped but the temperature began to drop. They left the shelter and hiked a rather challenging section of the trail requiring quite a bit of climbing and over rocky terrain. They arrived at Jerry Cabin Shelter 6:45 after trekking 15.4 miles. As they were finishing up dinner, the scenery turned into a winter wonderland. The cold temperatures and snow encouraged the couple to retreat into their tent and the warm of sleeping bags – with the satisfaction of a goal completed.
April 22 – Fuzzy Details
David and Annie’s online journal skips April 22 and 23 and continues on April 24. The details of each day’s journey is difficult to discern. They have been doing some slack-packing which makes destinations and direction (north or south bound) a bit confusing. My best guess is that they hiked from Jerry Cabin Shelter to Hogback Ridge Shelter (14.7 miles) on April 22. They both seem well and enjoying the backpacking experience thanks to the kindness of Miss Janet and Tiger (two trail angles who are providing support to this couple).
April 16 – Great Hostel – Sore Ankle
With 20.6 miles of hiking between the Hoots and Hot Springs and with bad weather predicted for the weekend, Five Pair and Mileage decide to make a big dent in the journey today and leave a shorter hike tomorrow to arrive at the trail town. They get a shuttle ride back to Max Patch and begin their trek to a new hiker hostel (the Happy Gnomad Hiker Hostel) 14.0 miles down the trail. The hostel turned out to be a 5-star experience and the day ended with fine accommodations. Five Pair is struggling with ankle pain but anticipates an easier hiking day tomorrow with only 6.5 miles to cover.
April 17 – NWB
The morning presented itself with the blessing of a short distance to Hot Springs but with a major concern – Five Pair woke up with an ankle that was NWB – Non-Weight Bearing. The two Hoots made a decision that Five Pair would visit an urgent care facility in Asheville while Mileage would solo hike to Hot Springs. Five Pair would join her there after the ankle was evaluated. The owners of the Gnomads Hostel agreed to drop Mileage at the trailhead and transport Five Pair to the Asheville urgent care.
Mileage was dropped first and before hiking one step, she was greeted by a special Trail Blessing event: waffles topped with strawberries, as well as Cadbury eggs for “dessert.”
Five Pair’s results were somewhat predictable: doctors advised six weeks off the trail to allow her ankle to heal. Realizing that Five Pair was most likely not going to take that time off, the physician provided wrap that Five Pair could use when she to the trail. Reuniting in Hot Springs, the Hoots went about resupplying and dining. The day ended with the Hoots satisfied and looking forward to rest and RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for Five Pair.
April 18 – Hot Springs Zero
The Hoots took the planned zero day in Hot Springs. Five Pair was faithful to the RICE protocol and the day was spent staying dry, relaxing, and evaluating the contents of their backpacks.
April 19 – And Then There Was One…
The Hoots exited Hot Springs by hiking a mile across the bridge over the French Broad River and back into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Six miles of walking brought them to Tanyard Gap, and a discussion between Mileage and Five Pair. The ankle wrap was not providing the support needed, her injury felt worse, and she had already taken a fall that morning. Five Pair decided to get off the trail and take care of herself (with a glimmer of hope that she might be able to rejoin Mileage at a later date). As Five Pair waited for a shuttle from Happy Gnomad Hostel to pick her up, Mileage hiked out of the gap to continue her trek.
Mileage hiked another five miles to the Spring Mountain Shelter where she would call it a day for a total of 11 miles and an accumulated 285.9 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
April 20 – 300 Miles!
Mileage put in some good mileage today as a solo hiker. She ended her day at Jerry Cabin Shelter having trekked 15.9 miles. At the 12-mile mark for the day, Mileage arrived at Big Firescald Knob describing it as “incredibly rocky and steep” and ” a rock scramble with hands.” She passed the 300-mile mark today, but settle down for a cold and chilly night in her tent.
April 21 – What? Snow and Sleet in April?
Mileage began hiking today with two companions: Fidget and Gourmet. As they began the day’s hike the cold and damp conditions, turned onto sleet and snow. After six miles, the trio decided to find some warm accommodations. With no cell phone coverage, they continued walk for two more miles. Once the towers were available, cell phone service connected the hikers to the Supper 8 and reservations for the night.
The three hikers walked another mile and a half to a parking lot at Devil Fork Gap and a shuttle ride. They arrived at the Super 8 cold and wet. But the heat was turned up, laundry was done, hot showers were enjoyed, and a quick visit to the grocery met all their needs.
Total miles for the day=9.4.
April 22 – 20 Degrees – Ouch
8.5 miles completed today. Mileage, Fidget, and Gourmet got a morning ride to Devil’s Fork Gap around 10:30 and the sun greeted their steps. As the day progressed the temperatures dropped, and the wind increased. Despite their layers, hats, and gloves, all three began to feel the sting of the lower temperatures and wind-chill. The predicted weather was a continued high wind and temperatures below 20 degrees F. on the mountain. Mileage and her companions sought the safety of Nature’s Inn hostel, located just off the trail in Sam’s Gap in Flag Pond, TN. The hostel was a small cabin with a common room and a wood burning stove (a source of real joy for the cold hikers).
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.
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.