Oh Well…

As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. For me that link has traditionally been my knees. Although the ascents have been okay, over the last few days, the descents have become more and more painful. Today I headed off into the Smokies with a fully loaded pack (five+ days of food), sufficient rations to hopefully carry me through their entirety. After a few miles in, my right knee proved unwilling to cooperate. Unwilling to risk more serious or permanent injury, I have made the decision to leave the trail. Thanks to all who have followed “Ivan” and offered their support.

Inadequate Infrastructure

This post is rated R for rude.
This is a picture of a privy. Thus far, there has been a privy at every shelter visited.

I’m sure you can figure out what’s its purpose is. To be more accurate, most of the privys encountered thus far are moldering privys meaning natural decomposition occurs with the help of some dry leaves or wood chips. It’s not as bad as it sounds, except …
Looking at the registration rates for thru hikers, I started hiking at the back end of the “bubble.” Many more people have come before me with not quite as many beginning after me. Certainly many more people are hiking today, way more than originally envisioned by trail planners and those who built the privys.
So I’ve now learned that when you visit a privy its with some trepidation you lift the lid. There have been times when full to the brim takes on a completely new meaning. In fact we’ve coined the phrase “hover” to describe this very situation. Apparently decomposition can’t quite keep up with current hiker rates! Sent from my iPhone

Thoughts From The Trail

The picture below shows one part of the climb featured in the second half of the day. Actually an easy part of the climb!

Started the day at just over 4000′, dropped to 1700′ in 6 miles and then climbed to nearly 4400′ in 7 miles. Don’t bridges exist in this part of the world?
The low elevation point today was NOC, an outdoor center with kayaking and white water rafting. I had lunch there and picked up a few supplies in a mail drop. Spending the night at Sassafras Gap, in the tent again.
As I was hiking today I wondered if a robot could ever hike the AT. From pole plants to foot placement, there’s a lot going on with every step you take. Not to mention having to keep those batteries charged!
I also wondered (anything to take the mind off the climb) why some bugs seem to be in such a hurry as they scurry down the trail, while others don’t seem to have a care in the world. Did they win the equivalent of the bug lottery?
Two more days to Fontana Dam, gateway to the Smokies! I finally will be hiking in the mountains I named my second dog after! Sent from my iPhone

More Trail Magic

More Trail Magic! Hot dogs, soda, Gatorade, fruit, awesome. The individual putting out the spread is retired from corporate America. Here’s out about two times a week making guys like me feel good. Thank you soooooo much!
Aside from the trail magic, the weather has been great. Almost too hot as I’m clearly not acclimated to warm. But, the sun feels really good. Knowing the nice weather will not last, heard a refrain that can echo on those miserable days: No Pain, No Rain, No Maine! Sent from my iPhone

Zero Day

After spending the night (4/13) at Rock Gap Shelter we descended to Winding Stair Gap. The destination was Franklin, NC. Adele (Purple Heart) was nice enough to have her brother pick us up and drive us into Franklin, for our first true zero day (the following day). Franklin has a few outfitters one of which has a pub inside. Nice! That’s me with Alan (The Kid).

We enjoyed the day off. When we were leaving The Sapphire Inn, 6 police cruisers rolled into the parking lot. Apparently hikers were sharing a room and one accused the other of stealing something. One cruiser. was a canine unit. The dog went crazy immediately upon entering the room. Opps! Multiple people escorted to police cars in handcuffs.
Conversely, I’m so happy with the people I’ve been hiking with. If you have a chance take a look https://www.crowdrise.com/nobarriersontheappal. This is the site of Adele (Purple Heart). Just like all of us, there’s a reason for being here, hers is just way more noble than most. Help out if you can. Thanks.

100 In The Books

Wednesday 4/13 Albert Mountain. The pictured fire tower is significant for a number of reasons. The climb to the tower was unpleasant. On my rating scale there’s ugh, annoying and unpleasant with the last one being well, unpleasant (the worst). This climb featured some hand over hand scrambling, with those gasps when you’re worried about falling backward.
But as is often the case, the rewards were well worth it. Tremendous views and the tower marked the 100th mile of the trail (yeah)! Sent from my iPhone

Mile High

Soggy start today as it was still raining when I left Muskrat Creek Shelter. About five miles in the sun came out allowing me to take off rain gear.
Interesting, I have rain pants and two of the guys I’m hiking with are wearing rain skirts. They say they’re very comfortable and clearly don’t catch your leg/thigh like wet sticky pants do. Hmmm
After the break was the first 5000 foot climb of the trip. Standing Indian Mountain topped out at 5435 feet. Fortunately the trail both up and down was well graded. If only all climbs on the trip could be like this. One is allowed to dream of course.
Got to Carter Gap with plenty of time to dry out the tent et al. I’ll take the clear and chilly night over rain anytime.

Nice footbridge out on the trail!

Boarder Crossing

Yesterday I crossed from Georgia to North Carolina in what will hopefully be one of many to follow. Yeah!
North Carolina was not that welcoming. We were quickly met by an annoying climb (read wtf, where was that on the profile?) and rain at night. Thankfully the rain came after setting up camp and dinner.
Still hiking with the same folks and to pass the time we came up with some potential book titles. Such as “Why is the last mile always the hardest” and “But on the bright side I got a nice tan!”
I know, means absolutely nothing to you, but provided us some good entertainment. Sent from my iPhone

1 Down 24 To Go

For those of you that have run track or done any type of interval workout, you know that one technique to handle the task at hand is to break the workout down into segments.
Well, the first week is in the books, and if I can hold to my plan, I have only 24 more weeks to go. Tomorrow it gets potentially even more exciting as I should pass from Georgia to North Carolina. Hopefully one down, 13 to go.
The hostel at Top of Georgia was full, so the band of merry people handed into Hiawasee for the night. Holiday Inn Express good! Daniels Steakhouse buffet good! Showers and laundry also good!

Trail Magic

Spent Friday night at Blue Mountain Shelter. I awoke to a cold and windy morning. It was 34 in my tent, so I imagine a bit colder outside. I wish I had one of those wind chill charts handy, although it would have been tough to hold, because the fingers weren’t working too well. Regardless, I hit the trail because, well there’s really nothing else to do but hit the trail!
Descending into Indian Grave Gap ( for those keeping score at home) there was a group of people. Some hikers, some not hikers!

As I approached, someone asked me if I wanted a barbecue sandwich. Wow, trail magic! When they anticipate the hiker rates picking up, these good folks set up camp and offer food and drink to thru hikers. I obviously had the good fortune to pass by on Saturday. An unbelievable gesture for which I am thankful.
Still hiking with the three people I hooked up with the first day on the AT ( not the Approach Trail); Ben, Alan, and Adele.
After a sandwich, some fruit and chips we headed to Addis Gap to spend the night.