Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The AT Days 1-12

The following are Tarah's journal entries from our first twelve days on the trail. Entries from our final days on the trail will follow shortly.

May 2, 2009

Today we started the AT. Mom and Dad dropped us off at Amicola Falls State Park and then hiked about 3 miles or so with us. We started around noon after signing in as hikers 667 and 668 for the 2009 thru year.

We arrived at the summit of Springer around 4pm. It was really anti-climactic – but after a couple of photos we took our first steps on the AT! Yay us! We stopped around 7pm, roughly 5 miles past Springer – around 14 for the day.

May 3 – Day 2 AT ~16 miles

Today started with waking up in the rain and it looks like we are going to sleep in the rain. However, the day was mostly dry and the sun even came out for a little while!

We saw a variety of creatures today including: red lizards (about 4 of them), a million different centipedes of all different colors, a variety of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. We also saw several humans. We played tag with a group of 4 for a couple of miles and they did not catch up again in the end. Perhaps we’ll see them another place, another time. There were about 3 other people we passed and 2 ultralighters that passed us.

We had our first hot dinner tonight, with Chris’s mac and cheese exploding and mine turning into soup. Thankfully we have 2200 more miles to figure it out!

For now – rain and occasional thunder – tomorrow Blood Mountain and Neel’s Gap.

May 4 – Day 3 ~17 miles ‡ $2

We started today with a break in the rain, it even seemed promising enough that we took off our pack covers in hopes of things drying out! Then the mist rolled in and so we covered everything up once more.

Stopped at Neel’s Gap for lunch and that’s when the rain came pouring down. After comments from other hikers on our tenacity, we took off into the rain for six miles of singing through bear country and a trail that turned into a river!

All in all, a good day – even if it was a bit damp. Now that camp is set up it appears we’ll have a dry evening – maybe a dry day tomorrow?

May 5 – Day 4 ~11 miles

Today we started out in our crocs because our shoes were still wet from yesterday’s downpour. I ended up changing into my wet shoes because I started getting a little rash on my foot. The little rash turned into a big rash that is now covering both of my feet 0 oh joy! Thankfully it doesn’t itch or hurt so I’ll keep taking benadryl and hope that it goes away.

We had a low mile day today so that we can go into Helen for a resupply tomorrow. If all goes well we’ll hopefully make it to Tray Mountain Shelter (and maybe my feet will clear up!)

May 6 – Day 5 ~13 miles (trail) + 5 miles (road) ‡$16

We started the day with a loud thunderstorm and loads of rain – and some magic! We were walking into Helen to do a quick resupply and after 4 miles of road walking (where the store should have been) a nice man picked us up and drove us the other 2 miles (he had already taken the Swiss guys to the store and they told him they had met us on the trail – and he came back!) After our resupply we walked about 1.5 miles and a couple of women picked us up to take us back to the trailhead. What fabulous magic! We were able to start hiking again by the time we wanted to leave town!

*A quick side for memory sake – one of the women may have been trying to get us to buy pot … hmmm …

*Additional note: for those who have watched Northern Exposure, the old man that picked us up reminded me of Maurice – in looks and mannerisms

Anyway here we are, about 5.5 miles past our original plan and we’ll hopefully make it to NC tomorrow!

May 7 – Day 6 ~17 miles (79.3 total)

Today we made it into North Carolina! And, North Carolina means business – almost as soon as we entered the state we went up, up, up!

Feet felt a little better today, just a little tender at the get go – but the couple of blisters I have are feeling OK as of now.

It was nice and sunny today – a great break from the rain. Tomorrow we’ll see what the trail has in store for us!

May 8 – Day 7 ~19 miles

Today we had a pretty easy day in North Carolina. There were rolling hills and occasional views – and of course that one pesky thunderstorm that was right over our heads (literally no time between lightning and thunder) and drove us to a shelter for about an hour. There were about 10 of us there waiting out the heaviest part of the storm – and we were the first out when things lightened up a bit.

We gladly added 3 miles onto our planned day when we arrived at that campground by 5pm. Chris would have driven me crazy with that much daylight left and there was a crazy, growly dog there.

*As a side, there were also two hikers who had told us in the morning that we probably wouldn’t see them again – they were planning the shelter where we are now – as of right now we passed them twice in the morning but have yet to see them at the shelter – and we have been here for about 2 hours. Maybe we’ll see them in the morning.

Another shorter day tomorrow and a resupply!

Oh! And it seems that every time I say it’s just a 5K we climb up, up, up!

May 9 – Day 8 ~20 miles

So we skipped our resupply today in favor of going to the NOC tomorrow instead where we won’t need to go off trail for goodies.

Had a late start today but good miles through early afternoon when we were thwarted with a very cold rainstorm. Regardless – we stayed on track and are at the shelter for the night – and made our fist 20 mile day.

May 10 – Day 9 ~16 miles ‡ $12

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday Ashley!

We are camped out at the shelter before the NOC. We got in about 5 – Chris ran (literally) to the NOC to get a couple of days resupply food and I set up camp and started laundry. When Chris got back we did baths and water and all that hullabalu to get clean for the next couple of days – week – whatever :)

Today was some nice hiking – ups and downs with quick views – kind of like Maine. For me it has been my favorite section of the trail so far, even if my feet TOTALLY disagree.

This evening after setting up camp Cargin and friend came through headed to the NOC. For people we weren’t supposed to see again we sure have seen them a lot. Not sure when exactly we passed them – but apparently we did. Who knows when we’ll run into them again!

Happy trails and Happy feet :)

May 11 – Day 10 ~ 17 miles

Up, up, up! That’s what we did today – I’m sure we went down a little here and there, but mostly I remember climbing when I think of today! We had some nice views over the Nantahala Gorge and from Cheowa Bald. It stayed pretty cool most of the day.

This evening we got to the shelter and there was a man there with dogs. He told us that if we were going to eat the dogs would beg – but we could just ignore them. My advice to hikers with dogs – put them on a leash.

Settling in now and ready to get warm! Chris has found that we are camping on nature’s Tempur-Pedic. If he shifts just right his bum goes in a hole and straightens out his spine! Just what you need after a long hike :)

*Additional note: The privy at this shelter was missing its walls! Just what you want when you have two unleashed dogs roaming the area…

May 12 – Day 11 ~13 miles + 2 road miles ‡ $45

Today we had a pretty relaxing day. We lazed in our tent until around 7:30 and left camp around 8:45. With only 13 miles to Fontana Dam we figured there wasn’t much of a rush.

Saw some crazy millipedes congregating on a tree and Chris spotted another snake that I just happened to walk over without notice – this makes 2. I better start noticing them, I don’t want to irritate a poisonous one!

Made it into Fontana after chatting with some crazy hikers. They were 2 older men who have been sectioning for a while – they’re finishing up the south this trip and then have Maine left. One likes Pennsylvania because of the road houses at every gap – the other thinks his friend wouldn’t know a good vista if you told him it was right in front of him :)

After walking to Fontana Village for resupply we partook in some magic from some ’08 thru hikers and a section hiker named Xanadu. Now we are at the Hilton (shelter) – there were free showers!

Tomorrow it’s onto the Smokies!

“I do not impact nature – Nature impacts me” – Tunnelvision this AM :)

May 13 – Day 12 ~23 miles

Enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! The first part of our day flew by with gradual up-hills and gradual down-hills. The trail was reasonably wide and pretty level. We reached our halfway point around 1.

Our second half was a little slower with a climb up Thunderhead Mountain and slightly rougher terrain on a little tired legs and feet – feet much more so than legs.

We made it to a full shelter after about 12 hours of hiking and after dinner and a little deliberation, happily pitched our tent (* you are only supposed to sleep in shelters in the Smokies, unless they are full).

Today’s excitement included interrupting a climbing lesson between Mama and Baby bear just before lunch and then about 45 minutes before getting to the shelter we heard a nice little growl before what I assume was a bear ran down the mountain.

Happy trails :)

1 comment:

Aunt Beth said...

Tarah - couldn't you find somewhere to get a pedicure along the way? tee hee Really - I've enjoyed reading your journal!