Sunday, April 19, 2009

Appalachian Trial

This is my blog as I prepare, Lord willing, to hike the 2175 miles of the Appalachian Trail starting March 5th, 2008. Then for the next 4-5 months, I will be somewhere between Springer Mountain (the southern point) and Mount Katahdin (the northern point). The trail goes through 14 states: Georgia, N.C., Tennessee, Virginia, W. Virginia, Maryland, Penn., N.J., N.Y., Conn., Mass., Vermont, New Hampshire, and finally Maine!

Here are a few tidbits about the Appalachian Trial to chew on!

* 5 million footsteps to reach Maine
* 82,366 white blazes marking the trail (avg of one every 39 feet)
* 6,000 calories burned daily by a thru-hiker
* 265 shelters or lean-tos dotting the trail (avg of one every 9 miles)
* 12 minutes for record-holding thru-hiker to devour a half-gallon carton of ice cream at the half-gallon challenge in Penn.

Home Sweet Home

Well the Webster's dictionary defines a home as: one's place of residence. So, that means that my 1 lb. GoLite Tarp will be my home away from home for the 4-5 months on the trail.

It doesn't look all to bad and check out these perks!

1. It has 3 stable sides (as long as my tree limbs hold up)

2. So far it hasn't leaked on me yet (all though i haven't really tested it in a severe storm yet.)

3. I have a picturesque view out of my front door to take all the beautiful sights of the woods

4. I can pet any animal that may come up to my entrance way...another way to reconnect with nature!

5. And check out the square footage in that place! Man, there must be atleast 60-70 sq feet there! What am i going to do with all that room!

6. No dusting, sweeping or moping needed!

7. Finally, I can cook, eat, bathe, change clothes, do laundry and sleep all in the same spot! Now how is that for being efficient!

So as you can see, this place is well worth the dough i spent...and i didn't even have to get an adjustable rate morgage for it! I feel blessed!

Ahhh. Home Sweet Home.

The Backpacker with no name

Hello all,

Only 38 more days remaining, which seems like an eternity. To pass the time, I have been reading journals of previous AT thru-hikers. I stumbled across a journal of a man, who hiked the AT trail in 1983 (when i was 6 years old!). Since there are no TV's, books, X-Box's, Rock Band, etc... there is a lot of time to think and read the trail registers!

You may wonder what are the trail registers? Well they are your form of entertainment along the trail (like your magazines in the bathroom!). Each shelter has one, and thru-hikers sign there names if they stay there. Also you can post information on trial conditions, or you can be creative and put down stories, comic strip drawings or say hi to fellow thru-hiking friends that maybe arriving later. A thru-hiker usually stops at the shelters, takes a break and reads through the registers.

Well this gentleman, George Steffanos, came up with this ongoing story of the "Backpacker with No Name.", and placed them in the trail registers on his 1983 hike. Since it is the 25th Anniversery of his hike, I would like to share one with you.

"The Backpacker with No Name" by George Steffanos.

The midday sun beat down mercilessly on the Moreland Gap Shelter as I strolled in, leading my faithful mule. Oddly the place was full of emaciated backpackers. They watched with guarded expressions as I dropped my pack and started to prepare my lunch.

A skeletal boy edged timidly over and sat down next to me. Greedy eyes surveyed my Tang and peanut butter crackers. "Want some?" I asked.

"Oh, it is no use, Mister," he said in a curious, flat monotone. "Ramone will be the only one to feast on those crackers."

I reached my hand inside my faded, old serape, fished around in my pockets, and finally pulled out the half-smoked stump of an old cigar. "I don't know who this Ramone is, " I said. "But, nobody is enjoying this roughage but me."

Oh, you mustn't talk like that, Mister!" the boy cried. The other backpackers stared at me, fear and despair haunting their hollow eyes. Those nearest to me stood up and shuffled to the other end of the shelter. I shrugged calmly, pulled my hat brim down a little lower over my eyes, leaned back, and munched a saltine.

"I'll take the rest of those crackers, americano," said a harsh, flat voice from behind me.

I turned slowly, carefully removing the cigar stump from the corner of my mouth to spit out a stray shred of tobacco. Facing me across the shelter was the biggest, ugliest woods rat I have ever seen -- more than eight feet tall, with a huge, round beer belly. I pulled out a match and struck it against the stone of the shelter's foundation. With cool deliberation, I lit my cigar and exhaled a long, slow tendril of smoke.

"I am Ramone," he said, his lips moving a little out of sync with his words. "This is my shelter, and any food that comes into it is mine!"

I gave him my trademark dubious sneer and dropped my cigar butt down on the ground, crushing it slowly out with my boot. I picked up a saltine, calmly spread peanut butter on it, and popped it into my mouth.

"Now you die, filthy americano!" he snarled, a full half-second before his lips began to move. He lunged for his rifle.

"Mphmrmph!" I replied, spitting out cracker crumbs. I flipped the right side of my serape over my right shoulder for faster access to my right hip. He quickly lifted his rifle, but I pumped three quick shots into him before he could fire. A weird, Spanish-sounding music was playing in the background as he slumped to the ground, his eyes filled with horrified amazement.

"Who are you," he groaned.

"A backpacker," I said.

His eyes rolled over and he said no more. I strolled leisurely out into the blistering heat, wondering where the heck those bells and trumpets playing in the background were coming from.

The other backpackers came running from the shelter, laughing and shouting. The boy ran up to me and tugged at the corner of my serape. "Hey, Mister, who are you?" he asked.

I smiled, flipped him a granola bar and headed up the next ridge

Twitter & Flickr

While hiking these 2175 miles, a lot of things can happen to a thru-hiker. But thankfully to today's technology, I can keep my family and friends aware of my health and safety as I transverse the wilderness of the Appalachian mountains! Granted it is dependent on a lot of factors such as:

battery life of my cell, reception coverage, ability to use my hands, weather, ect..

So as I hike the trail, I will be texting messages throught the day using Twitter! It is on the right hand side of the page, and will updated each time I send something. The update will be 140 characters or less. I have some practice messages up currently. If it is too hard to read let me know and I can attempt to change my background to help ease the eyes a bit. Hey, I care about the health of my readers!

So, even if I cant get to a computer to post a "real" can still see what is going on to me on the trail! How cool! So once I leave...keep checking even if I dont post a new blog entry...cause I just dont know how often I will get to a computer! I am suppose to be ROUGHING it!

Also, I am trying to figure out how to send pictures from my cell phone right to my blog. So stay tuned. I believe it is possible, just need to figure it out! Any tips will be greatly appreciated! I have set up a Flickr account, and have linked it to my blog. So I have managed to get this far! Less than 23 more days! YIKES!

Amee - The greatest wife in the world!

Since I had to work all day on Valentine's day, I am writing this post on the day after.

I just want to say publically that my wife, Amee, is the greatest wife in the world! I love her so much!

There are not many wives out there that would mind it if their husbands went "walking in the woods" for 4-5 months! I am a very blessed guy. Amee has been loving, gracious and very supportive to me during this whole planning process! Even, when I have been buying my gear (which isnt the cheapest...but something sparkley and expensive is in the works when I get back...just for her!) She is awesome and very godly!

We have planned that she will come out and visit me every three weeks until my brother's graduation at the end of May. That means...Hot Springs, NC; Pearisburg, VA; Harper's Ferry, WV and wherever I am right before my brother's graduation. After that, I won't see her till I finish at Mount Katahdin.

Here is the schedule. Each location is a day's drive from Lafayette, so she will drive out to the town on day one and find me that night..probably by my stench! The next day we will spend the whole day together (after taking numerous showers and washing my clothes!!) and do what ever tickles our fancy...just NO hiking! This is a ZERO day for me! Then finally Amee will head home early the next morning back to Lafayette, which will be the hardest since she knows that it will be another 3 weeks before she sees me again. And, I will begin hiking again anxiously awaiting our next rendezvous.

I think missing Amee will be the hardest part of the whole trip! I think so far in our marriage we have only been apart for one week, and here I am leaving for 5 months!! Yikes! I have a friend from work, and that is the reason she got off the trail after 1000 miles...cause she missed her husband so much. So it is a very big motivator and stubbling block.

But, I am thankful for such great friends in the career class, who I know will continue to love on her and be there for her as well! She may not even miss me after hanging out with all the ladies from the class! ;O) Plus, she received many gift cards from her whole family to pamper herself while I am away.

Well, anyway. Kudos to my wonderful wife, Amee, who I love with all my heart! She is the greatest! Love ya babe!

p.s. Amee's turning 31 in 3 more days!!! Oops...was I not suppose to tell how old she was turning! lol :O)

Trail Humor

Yes, that is right...three more days! Things have been a whirlwind around the Redden home. Between finishing my last few days at work for a while and getting everything packed and ready for Amee when I leave, I cannot believe it is soooo close!

Well I thought I would post one last story by George Steffanos. His stories on his '83 thru-hike are amazing. He is a very talented writer. Anyway, this story is in the style of General George Patton. Enjoy....

When I stopped at Punchbowl Shelter for lunch, four backpackers were already settled in for the night. I walked over to the first one and asked, "How far did you come today, son?"

"Forty-five miles, sir!" he replied in a strong, clear voice.

I told him to keep up the good work and moved over to the second hiker. I asked him the same question, and he shot back, "Thirty miles, sir, but both of my ankles are sprained!"

I told him I was proud to be hiking with men like him, and vigorously shook his hand.

The third hiker's reply was a sickly, but firm, "Twenty miles on a broken leg, sir."

I was overcome. I knelt down, said a little prayer for the lad, and kissed his forehead.

Then, I walked over to the fourth hiker.

"I've been here at this shelter for six days," he sobbed. "I just can't seem to shake off this depression. Virginia is too much for me. It's all the same. I can't stand it! Everything is all the same! I can't take it any more!"

I grabbed the yellow coward by his collar and yanked him to his feet. "You no-good, lousy, stinking coward!" I screamed. "You don't belong here in this shelter with these fine men! Get out! Get back out on that trail, and I hope you fall off a cliff! You make me PUKE!!"

He ran out blubbering into the forest, quivering like a leaf. I know that Ike is going to give me heck for this, but, then, the AT is heck. I love it, though.

--General George Steffanos


AHHHH! Only 2 more days left.

Today I woke up at 4:50 am ON MY DAY OFF!! That has never happened! I am definetly not a morning person at all, but I hope I become one on the trail! Well once I woke up, my mind kicked into high gear thinking of all the things I need to get done today! Why is it that when ever you pack for a big vacation, you always know that you will forget matter how organized you are! I just hope it isnt something I desperately need!

I do have my insurance card (a tip from my co-worker!) just in case I get mauled by a black bear...which my co-workers are sure will happen! And if anyone knows my love of trying to pet any animal...they could be right! lol.

Also I have been thinking of all the love and kindness my fellow co-workers showed to me on my last weekend of work! The threw me a carry-in on BOTH of my last 2 days of work! I think they were trying to fatten me up as much as possible before I leave! Thank you... Lois, Marilyn, Donia, Mallory, Jessica & Monette!

Marilyn and Tracy even came in on their day off to say good-bye and bring me more essentials for the trail...poptarts, twizzlers, blister treatments, beef jerky, snickers, ect..! Thank you... Lois, Marilyn and Tracy!

Marilyn, who is a AT section hiker, also brought in a 3 foot map of the AT and posted it on the unit, so they can keep track of me on my adventures! What awesome co-workers I have been bless to work with. I will miss you guys!

I have been thinking of some of my goals as well. Here are just a few:

1. Make it through my first night on the trail!
2. Make it through the first week on the trail!
3. Break down the "wall" in Virginia (the longest part of the trail!)
4. Hike the beautiful White mountains of New Hampshire!
5. Summit Mount Katahdin!
6. Daily devotions and bible readings
7. Memorize as many of the psalms as possible
8. Journal daily
9. Avoid getting Giardiasis - a nasty diarrheal illness

Road Trip

Well the day finally arrived! One more day to go! I am back into my normal sleeping habits...woke up to my alarm clock at 5:15 am...still way too early!

I was getting very nervous yesterday because it took about 2 hours to pack my backpack...and it is filled to the brim! 2 hours is way to long to pack you backpack, but I am much more confident today. It only took me 17 mins and 30 secs to pack it today. Yeah!! It is still busting at the seems, but I am sure I have probably packed to much stuff!

We plan to start driving at 7 am...and God decided to give us a wintery send-off! Thankfully as we head south it will just turn into rain! The weather forecast calls for rain today in prayers go out for those thru-hikers starting today. What a way to kick off the trip...but it isnt like we will never see rain! The weather forecast for Wednesday, when I start the trail, is sunny and NO rain! High 61...low of 33. Looks like 60's the rest of the week too! Yeah!

Amicalola Falls State Park is the destination today. It is just north of Atlanta on the map below. We will actually spend the night in Elijay, just outside the park. Lord willing, it should only take us 8 hours to get there. If there is enough daylight left, we plan to try to find the 2 mile approach trail that will lead us to the top of Springer Mountain!
Again, thank you all for your prayers for Amee and I. We greatly appreciate it! I will miss you all. I have lots of time on my hands now, so feel free to text me any prayer requests you would want me to pray about to 589-8220. Also, if Amee has any wild parties or seems like she is enjoying herself to much without me...text me as well! lol. Just kidding!

Well it is time for me to shave for the last time for the next 5 months and eat my last bowl of cereal for a while. Or should i eat a poptart to get me in the mood! lol.

Again, i will either be texting updates under "Jeremiah's AT Hike Update", which is in the right hand column, or be sending pictures from the trail in the left hand column! This is for you you know where I am! Don't worry, I will be fine! Love you!

God bless!

Approach to Springer

Amee & I hiking the 0.9 miles to summit of Springer mountain. Amee didnt realize she would be hiking to the top! It was an adventure getting here from IN, but we made it.

Springer Mountain

Amee & I at the summit of Springer. We decided to hike to the top today, so Amee could leave first thing in the morning to get back to IN. The trail was a river of water from rain this morning. The view from the top was breath taking! Signed the register & took some pics. Me at the 1st white blaze and plaque. Amee is glad she isnt hiking the trail! lol I on the other hand can't wait! Will enjoy this last night of comfort.

Starting out

Starting out...25 degrees and snow. Saying goodbye to turning back now!

First Privy

didnt need to use it but thought i would take a pic of it. very nice in side

Long Creek falls

took a side trail to long creek falls. did devotions psalm 8. Very peaceful. only seen one person.

Hawk Mountain Shelter

Home for the night. No bears seen. Beautiful day to hike. Should be crowded tonight at the shelter. 7.8 miles from Springer.

Day two break

Stopping for a break. Hiking with Ruby Tuesday. He broke his hiking pole already..not good. Thankfully Neel's gap is only 2 days away. About to climb Sassafras mnt. Doing blisters yet

Gooch Mnt Shelter

Made it to Gooch Mnt shelter. 15.1 miles from Springer, and only 2161.1 miles to Katahdin. Hiked with Ruby Tuesday today. His hiking pole broke today. He plans to get a new one at Neels gap. Sassafras mnt was a killer. Getting a hot spot on my foot. Also summitted Justis & Gooch mnts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Just lost 2 games of cribbage to Mary Poppins, who has everything in her pack. Ruby gave me my trail name today after giving my salvation story. He named me Shephard. So from now on that is my name for the AT. For u sun lovers...sunny all day and 70 degrees. Storm coming tonight...yikes. Time for dinner.


Woody Gap

1st public toilets in 3 days. At Woodys Gap. drizzle...trails muddy. Doing well. thx for prayers. Very foggy.


Three Amigos

Well since it was a bad day for pictures, I will tell u about some of the people I have met. In this picture is Scott, Bob, & Ralph from GA. They we excellent trail chefs! They had Chxn & gravy with stuffing, and even whipped up a blueberry cake! It was awesome. Scott even gave me some parting gifts...a cozy for my cooking pot & a mouse repellent made with peppermint oil. Will let u know if it works. Thanks again Scott (We didnt make it to Neels). They were just out for a couple days. Again, they were a great bunch of guys.


Wood hole shelter

Well we obviously didnt make it to neels gap. After climbing Ramrock mnt then Big Cedar mnt and then Burnett field mnt, we just didnt have it in us. Snow is foorecasted and it is already getting cold. Thankfully I had some dry clothes to change into, the rest are hanging on the clothline. 12 people staying here tonight, and then tommorrow we climb the highest mnt in GA... Blood mnt! Hopefully it wont live up to its name! It actually stopped raining at 9:20 when we left Gooch, but it pretty muuch rained on us the rest of the way. I did get to use my umbrella today & it worked great! Yeah. well I am being called Inspector Gadget due to all the gizmos I have,.but Shephard still rules. Well thxs for the prayers. Signing off for now.

Blood Mountain

Hiked up Bloood mnt in the snow. Actually it was a very easy climb compared to the last few days. Maybe I am actually getting in shape. Hiking up it reminded me of the LOTR scene where Gandof was leading the group through the mnt pass. Matt..the pressure was 874 millibars on top of the mnt...and 26 degrees not including the wind chill. Lowest pressure so far.

Neels Gap

Made it to Neels gap at 1030 this morning. Trail goes right through the store. Talk about bringing your customers right to you! Bought a new food sack..some snickers and poptarts. and some new insoles for my feet. The girls are doing laundry and showering..I am waiting till Hiawasee. I want the funk to be strong..although I really dont smell the other hikers..just me. Will try to tarp tonight somewhere down the road.

Our first campsite

We left Neels Gap at 2:30 and hiked 4.2 more miles to Baggs Creek Gap. Here we are tarping for the first time. It is Snickers & Mel in their tarp and me in mine. The sun actually came out and we got to see some views for the first time in a day and a half. We are 34.9 miles from Springer & 2141.3 miles from Katahdin. Well I hope my tarp holds, because it is very windy & it is suppose to get down to 20 degrees tonight. Time for dinner before dark. Dont forget to turn ur clocks back tonight. Also sorry for the spelling errors..sometimes it is hard to text with frozen thumbs. Goodnight.


Frozen Thru-hiker

Well it is 7:45 and I made it thru the night alive. It only got down to 7 degrees last night. stayed warm for the most part with every piece of clothing on. Wind was howling all night & still is. Temp is up to 26 degrees in my tarp. There is ice on the inside of my tarp from my breathing thru the night. Will probably wait awhile till the winds die down to pack up camp. Sorry..i meant to say spring foreward with ur clocks in my last post. Going to see if the gals made it ok. Dont worry about me mom...doing ok. lol.


Low Gap Shelter

Left campsite at 9 am and arrived at shelter @ noon for lunch. Sunny and warmer. Low 40's. Attempting to make it to Blue Mnt shelter tonight.


Blue Mountain Shelter

Howdy from Blue Mnt shelter. we officially hiked our biggest mileage today, and my feet are sore! We hiked 13.8 miles and are now 48.7 miles from Springer & 2127.5 miles from Katahdin. After lunch we hiked through 4 named gaps, so we must of hiked 4 mnts as well. Blue Mnt was the worst. Very rocky. We have an awesome view right out the front. There are a few thruhikers here & a lot of college students out on spring break. I know that isnt my wifes idea of a spring break. lol. Planning a short day tomorrow to rest our feet, but there are some tough climbs in store. Oh, no wind! Yeah. It is a beautiful night. I am getting my appetite back, and I hear an all you can eat Chinese buffet calling my name in Hiawasee! Yummy! God bless.

Toots & Burpples

Finally we have decided on trail name for my hiking companions for the past 4 days, so I can finally show them to you.

On the left we have Toots (Mel), who finally let me name her today. She didnt care for my previous name...Muddy Legs.

On the right we have Burpples (Jenna), who has finally decided on a trail name today. She first called herself Jade, then switched to Snickers at Neels gap. Then later on she introduced herself as not having a trail name at lunch today. So, I spent the rest of the day thinking of one for her. I came up with Belch, due to her constant burping. But she decided on a more feminine name of Burpples.

Burpples even showed me how to hang a bear bag last night!


Good Morning

Well good morning ya all. I know that this picture isnt the greastest but it is our first sunrise we could see from our sleeping bags. Actually slept 11 restful hours tonight. Temp 35 degrees. suppose to be sunny & 60's today.

Scott...if you are still reading this, the peppermint oil worked again. No mice. If possible leave your email address and I will email the results of it. Thx.


Plant quiz

I have been learning a lot fom the gals...especially about plants. So I wanted to test your knowledge as well. Can anyone identify the 2 types of plants found in this picture. My money is on Abby, Matt & Eric!. Leave your guesses in the comments and I will post the answer tomorrow. Good luck!

hint...both keep their leaves all year round.


Tray Mnt overlook

Well it is 5 pm and we are just chilling on this amazing overlook from Tray mnt. It is a great place for the sunset. We did 7.8 miles today. I dont have my data book handy to give official mileage. Tomorrow we are headed to the Blueberry Patch hostel in Hiawasee, where I will have my 1st shower in 7 days. Will also do laundry. Their breakfast is legendary. The view here is amazing and I doubt the picture does it justice. I will also resupply my food bag as well. 2 more days and I will be in NC saying goodbye to GA. Yeah!


Welcome to Hiawasee

Hello everyone!

It is 4:30 pm and I am at the public library checking out the wonderful comments you guys have left me! Thank you so much for all the encouraging words! Been having a blast so far! So far God has thrown about everything at us...snow, freezing wind and tempatures and rain...and I am still alive! Praise God!

Well today I am staying a dive called Hiawassee Inn, but it has a hot shower, warm bed and they are even doing my laundry! Plus they picked me up from the trail and will take me back tomorrow! Yeah!

After the library it is time to grocery shop and then later I am going to an "All you can eat" buffet as a steakhouse in town. I am not ravenous yet because I only bought a medium DQ blizzard this afternoon! You will know if I am really hungry when I am eating the large...but it was soooo good!

Well I only have 10 mins remaining on the computer, but I want to tell a couple of stories about 2 events that have transpired over the last few days.

The first one is about "Pearls". On saturday, the day it turn to snow in the early morning (Scott...your weather forecasting was right on!), we were just leaving the shelter when "Pearls" and her husband Alex were getting out of their tent. Well we didnt know the whole story till yesterday. They had left all their clothes out to dry over night due to the all day rain on friday. Well they didnt dry...they froze! So she had to put on those clothes and hike in the snow and freezing wind. Well I guess she got hypothermia and passed out a couple of times. Thankfully a couple weekend hikers had some emergency firewood with them and they started a fire for her to dry out! So when we saw her at Neels Gap, she actually looked good and was about to take a shower. Scary! But she is doing fine now and is staying in town tonight!

The other story happened Saturday night into Sunday morning. We left Neels gap that saturday and tarped, but they had a huge party with all you can eat food and alcohol for FREE! Why we didnt stay...who knows! But one guy named "freight train" got a little to drunk and in the morning woke up and thought he was outside...then he started to relieve himself right there in the bunkhouse! Everyone was shouting at him to get outside...and that made things worst cause he kept moving around! Finally they got him outside...but his new trail name is "Pee Train" now! Too funny. That is why you should stay away from alcohol!

Well my time is up! will update later! God bless!


Ruby Tuesday

Well I am finished doing my grocery shopping, and my laundry just finished! Perfect timing, eh. Still to early to eat just yet, so I thought I would show you who gave me my trail name!

Ruby Tuesday! He is a great guy out of Gainsville, Florida. He worked in an outfitter store, and he was very knowledgeable about hiking gear. He also plays harmonica and guitar in a band back home, and he actually brought his harmonica with him. He is pretty good! Hope you come up with a band name.

Thanks for signing my guest book Ruby. I hope your blisters are doing better. His blisters were the size of his thumbs! I hope your are still on the trail. Lord willing, we will see each other again. Godspeed!

The Hiawasee Inn

Just wanted to give free advertisement for the Hiawasee Inn. It isnt much to look at but they have treated me well, and even did my laundry for me...and folded it too! It is definetly better than a shelter.

I will post a reviews about Blueberry Patch & Cloud 9 when I see hikers who stayed there...for any future thruhikers out there.


Daniel's Steakhouse

Well slept well at the Inn, but anxious to get back on the trail. The breakfast here wasnt the greatest, so I gave them 3 out of 4 stars.

I ran into the girls last night & they said the Blueberry Patch rocked. pampered, plus they get blueberry pancakes and eggs. Downside is that it is hard to get in and out of town.

The steakhouse buffet was excellent. I couldnt eat alot yet. My waitress said that some hikers stay and eat for 3-4 hours. Not me. They had a nice salad bar, fried chicken, bbq pork, mashed potatoes, ect... Finished the meal with more ice cream.

Oh..the answer to the plant quiz...which was hard due to the quality of the pic is:

1. Rhododendron
2. Mountain Laurel

I think Abby & Mike got one of the two right!

Sunny and warm foecasted for the next 2 days! Next post will be in NC. Yeah!

A word from our sponsers

I defintely think that Snickers & Poptarts should be official sponsers of the AT, with Paydays close behind.

Since it has been a week now on the trail, I thought I would post some running totals on my favorite items to eat!

1. Poptarts - 12 (individuals)
2. Snickers - 5
3. Paydays - 3
4. DQ Blizzards - 1
5. AYCE - 1
6. Pint of Ben & Jerry Ice Cream - 0


NC/GA Border

Well time to close the chapter for Georgia, the home of the peach and great sweet tea...which I forgot to mention I had with supper! The last 3.1 miles of Georgia were pretty much an uphill climb...very tough.

So now into North Carolina. I am officially at Bly Gap, which is 76.4 miles from Springer & 2099.8 miles from Katahdin. I just set up my tarp at the campsite. It looks much more sturdier this time around. I am the only one here but am holding out hope that the gals or Pearls/Alex will come along. Not use to being all by myself yet. It is only 3:30...still early.

I also want to list for any future thruhiker the places to stay in Hiawassee from the best to the least from talking to other hikers.

1. Blueberry Patch!
2. Cloud 9
3. Hiawassee Inn
4. Holiday Inn Express.


Live Oak

Isn't this the coolest live oak tree you have ever seen! It is right on the trail after you cross into NC. I am sure it has been around for quite awhile.

After leaving Bly Gap tomorrow, I enter the Nantahala National Forest with 4000 foot gaps & 5000 foot peaks! Nantahala is Cherokee for "land of the noonday sun", according to my guidebook. After that I enter the Smokies.

Well 3 more people came and went onto the next shelter, but the last guy said something about a few people trying for this campsite. So we will see.


Standing Indian Mnt view

Well I made it to the summit at 1:50. Temp 64.5 degrees & a pressure of 856.4 mb, which is the lowest reading yet. I am at 5,498 ft up and sitting on a rock ledge over looking the mnts I have just been through. I can even see Hiawassee. Words or pictures of course cant say or show the coolness of the view. 6.1 more miles to the shelter. God is good, and His creation is amazing...even with the fall.


Carter Gap Shelter

Wooo Hooo! I did my first 15 plus mile day of my young AT hike. Officially 15.3 miles, which puts me 91.7 miles from Springer & 2084.5 miles to the end. I am averaging 10.2 miles per day so far.

So far Limestone & Juno made it here and are spending the night. Popeye & Captain Jack should be along soon.

I am still debating onto going into Franklin tomorrow. Popeye has offered to let me share a room with them, which will cut down the cost. The reason is I need more alcohol for my it is suppose to rain tomorrow night.

Well I am starving, so I think I will cook up my Beef Lo Mein meal tonight. Yum. For lunch I had Peanut butter & cheese crackers topped with Spam spread. First time for that combo, but it actually wasnt to bad! Getting real close to the Smokies!


Limestone & Juno

Day 10. Good morning.

We all slept well in the mice to speak of. I had my peppermint oil out as well! Chilly & windy.

Also I wanted you to meet Limestone & Juno. They are originally from Washinton, but have moved around for Limestone's job in the forrest service. They also lived in Juno, Alaska...where they came up with their names.

Scott...havent seen any Balds yet. I think our first one is tomorrow. Wayah Bald.


Mooney Gap

Passed through Mooney Gap, which is know to be the wettest places in the eastern US. It has an annual precipitation of 93.5 inches per year.

Guess what? No rain today! Yeah. Albert mnt looms in the near future.


Macgyver & Lemur

We had a MacGyver sighting on the trail. No it wasn't Richard Dean Anderson, but it was a couple from Delaware doing a thru-hike. I love the show, and even have the first 3 seasons at home!

I have seen his name in the registers for a while, but he was always 1-2 days ahead. They started on March 1st. Glad I got to finally meet them. I am sure there will be people trying to catch up with me as well. It is kind of funny how this works. You read their entries & really get to know them, so when you finally met them...their like family.


Mountain Feast

Well, we made it into Franklin, NC at about 4:45 pm, without Captain Jack. We are unsure where he is. He shouldn't of been too far behind us, but he never showed up. Popeye is getting nervous about him, and will probably have to take a zero day tomorrow because of this.

Today was a day of firsts. Funny thing was this morning I didn't think that there would be anything exciting to talk about, but that wasn't the case.

First of all, I passed the 100 mile mark today! We did 15.9 miles (the most in one day!) We are officially 107.6 miles from Springer and 1068.6 miles to Katahdin. Wooo hooo! Popeye said after the first 100 miles the miles really start adding up...I sure hope so!

The other first was that I went the wrong way for the first time! It happened about 3 miles after I left the shelter this morning. I apparently took a blue blaze trail, and about 5 mins later I realized I was going the wrong way! Thankfully it wasn't like 1 hour until I noticed my goof. Popeye told me on his thruhike in 2001, he went 5 miles before realizing he was going on the wrong trail! So he went 21 miles for the day and only 11 of them counted for the AT!

Well after Mooney gap, the rain clouds started to form. So I pretty much ran up Albert Mnt, and once we got to Big Spring Shelter it started to rain! Then of course it continued to rain the rest of the day! I am so thankful I am in town tonight! Although tomorrow's forecast calls for even more rain and possibly hail in the higher elevations! So any prayers would be greatly appreciated for the storm to hit tonight or wait till tomorrow night! I do plan to stay in a shelter tomorrow!

Well Popeye and I are staying at the Sapphire Inn and right across the street is a restraunt called Mountain Feast...and feast we did! They had an AYCE buffet with fried chicken, beef sirloin & fried catfish! Oh, the fried catfish was sooo good! I did better this time on the to eat 2 plates full! That was because all I had today was poptarts, snickers, milky way, PB and cheese crackers and a handful of GORP.

Tomorrow I will get some denatured alcohol and head back to the trail around 9-9:30 in the morning. I plan on doing 15.8 miles tomorrow to Cold Spring Shelter.

Note: Captain Jack finally arrived at the motel at 6 pm. Popeye will be greatly relieved! Hopefully he won't have to take a zero day tomorrow and will continue to hike with me! Love their company!

Also, thanks Russel for checking out my blog and following me as I head to Maine! Appreciate the encouragement!

Lee: I never smell! I always smell like a fresh mountain spring! lol. Yeh, if I could only bottle it up and send it to you! ;O)

Scott: Thanks for spreading the word about my blog. You can tell anyone you want about it. I hope to get the people who do Trail Journals to check it out...that way they can allow people to update their journals right on the trail like me. Instead of having to do it later when they find a computer. I don't know anyone else who has tried this type of journal for the AT...hopefully it will catch on!


Breakfast Club

Day 11. Good morning all. Spent the night at the Sapphire Inn. For all you future thru-hikers, Ron Haven treats you right. He is awesome. For 35 bucks for a room with free shuttle to and from trail. Also they have shuttle services around town for free. So if you need to go into Franklin..check out Haven Budget Inn. 4 stars!

We are at Wilson's Diner for breakfast. Plan to finally eat something other than poptarts. Eggs and biscuits!

Well heavy rain is in the forecast with baseball size hail. Will only do 11 miles today to get to wayah shelter.

Here at breakfast is popeye, california joe, greg, macky, lil mak, chair, limestone, cahoda, krt, & silas.


Drenched Thru-hiker

Praise God! I am alive and safe at Wayah Bald shelter. God is awesome, gracious & merciful. Here is the time line of my day.

0935: Dropped off at Winding stair gap by Ron Haven. Sun was out & beautiful morning, but I knew what was coming.
0940: Started hiking
1044: Made it to Siler Bald shelter. Literally running at times. No rain yet.
1100: Made it to top of Siler Bald
1120: Down in Walah Gap. First rumbles of thunder heard
1125: Sprinkeling now. 5.1 miles to go!
1140: Steady rain. Wayah bald is a killer! Umbrella out.
1150: Umbrella back in. Lots of lightening & thunder. rain heavier.
1250: Made it to Wayah Bald. Pouring buckets, with lighting and thunder. Trail a river of water & mud. Everything is soaked.
1310: Finally made it to shelter. Still raining. 4 other guys here.
1500: warming up as possible. Pea sized hail.

Lois: It was like George running for shelter in his trail journal. Although I didnt fall down!

Thank you for all your prayers!


Wayah Shelter

Good morning everyone. Made it through the night once again. Cold, but warm in my sleeping bag. Only hailed aout 5 times yesterday - pea size. Each time I was in shelter! Sunny day forecasted today. Trying to make NOC today...16.5 miles away. Some clothes still wet.

Wendy: Happy Birthday! A day late. Wanted to post it yesterday, but because of the surprise party I couldnt.

Jason: Bon voyage! Will miss ya. Hope you enjoy Louisville. Atleast it isnt to far to visit!

Matthew: Have fun on your spring break. To bad you couldnt come hiking with me!


First Trail Angel

1030: Is this a mirage or the real thing? A huge tent in the middle of the woods, with food! Here is the full story.

Last night at the shelter, Jesse got a call from his friend who missed the shelter. Well he told him about this trail angel with a big tent and wood stove and hotdogs about 3.5 miles from the shelter. At this point it was pouring buckets still, and they werent sure if he was giving them the run around.

Well Jesse, Steve & CJ. decided to leave the comfort of the shelter to see if it was true, and brave the pouring rain.

Well I, being in warm dry clothes wasnt attempting the trek. So to my amazement this morning when I got to Burningtown was the tent!

How cool. My first experience with trail magic & a trail angel. To God be te glory!



Well this is the trail angel...Apple. I dont know how well the picture turned out, since the lighting in the tent wasnt the best.

He is from Texas and has had the tent up for the past 10 days and will have it up for 4 more days. He has sectioned hiked from Springer to Hot Springs in the past.

The tent was very spacious. He had a large wood burning stove in the middle, and about 10-12 chairs strung out. He had coffee or hot chocolate to drinks and chips ahoy cookies to snack on! I had hot chocolate of course and 4 chewy cookies! Very nice snack in the morning!

well thanks again Apple! God bless.


Wesser Bald Observation Tower

This is the view from Wesser Bald. Since yesterday wasnt a good day for viewing the scenery from Wayah Bald, God allowed me to see it today! And what a site it was. You could see for miles 360 degrees...mountains everywhere! This is the view toward Fontana Dam and the Smokies, which I will come to real soon.

The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.
Psalm 50:1



Well day 12 is in the books. Officially hiked 16.5 miles (my longest so far). I am at the NOC, which is 134.9 miles Springer & 2041.3 miles to Katahdin. The NOC is the Nantahala Outdoor Center, which would be a nice place for a retreat. lol. Tomorrow I plan to do 16 miles to Brown Fork Gap Shelter, then to Fontana Dam the next day.

Thanks everyone for all the encouraging comments. They really help.

Russell: Great to meet ya. I hope to check out your program on YouTube when I get the chance! Lord willing I will have many opportunities to share my testimony, even if I can't I hope by my actions I stand out for God! Since I am His ambassador on this trek! I would be happy to hike with anyone out here.
Bill Bolander: When you get to this area when you start your hike. The 6.5 miles from Wesser tower to NOC is tough! Lots of steep up & downs. Not many switchbacks. Rivers end has great food. Wesser General store has limited food.

DaisyGirl: Yeh, glad my trail name isnt Cookie Monster!



Good morning & happy St. Patricks day. Well about to start off the day after eating a hearty breakfast at Rivers End. Scott mentioned that this morning will be tough...going up about 3500 ft in about 6-8 miles! Yeah baby. But I keep telling myself it is all down hill after that!
Well you maybe wondering what the picture is about. Any guesses to what type of fungus it is. I picked it because there is an interesting story to go with it, plus it is green for st. patty's day. I will give the answer tomorrow. Ok now the rest of the story.

Well I met this guy back on day 5. He started the trail caarrying a 65 lb pack! That is twice the weight of mine! Way to heavy for a thruhiker, hence he was quickly named Mule! When I met him, he had it down to 57 lb. Well the other interesting and odd thing about him was that he was on a 500 dollar budget for his thruhike! So in order to save money, he had beeen collecting the fungi in the picture & eating them with his food!

Happy Bday Eric! Hike on!

Brown Fork Shelter

Well as a tribute to the Red Couch, my favorite blog, I will post 10 things I learned today.

1. God is good even during the toughest days.
2. I am 16 miles farther than I was yesterday. this was my toughest day!
3. I am 150.9 miles from Springer & 2025.3 miles from Katadin.
4. I hate web walking, which means your the first one on the trail clearing all the cobwebs that were formed last night.
5. I hate getting out of my sleeping bag in the morning.
6. But I like hiiking in the coolness of the morning.
7. Loving Pastor Broggi's sermons on the book of Hebrews.
8. Having my first doubts on being able to complete the trail.
9. Been chewing the same piece of gum for the past 13 days. I will easily make 2 weeks.
10. And the greatest of them all...I get to see Amee in less than 8 days! I miss her sooo much!

So far it is just me in the shelter & the mice! Will have the oil out tonight.

Cheoah Bald was beautiful once you got to the top! Thanks Bob.