Carter Gap Shelter to Muskrat Creek Shelter. 12.5 miles.
Passed 200 miles!
Siler Bald Shelter to Franklin, NC via Winding Stair Gap. 4.2 miles.
Popped out of the woods and caught a ride into Franklin, my last chance for a city on the trail. Shower, bed, and Chinese Buffet. Walked into a Walmart for resupply and was overwhelmed. Back to the woods and on to Springer.
Passed a great waterfall before I hit the highway.
Fontana Hilton to Brown Fork Gap Shelter. 12.8 miles
It was a long day today. My feet and lower legs were sore from all the downhill yesterday, and I just didn’t have “it” going. I have enough food but short on trail snacks. It really helps to eat something before a climb. I also have a heavy food bag after my resupply box.
Made it to the shelter about 6:30. Still had 30 minutes of sun. Shared the shelter with a guy in the British Navy. He has already completed the PCT and is very close to finishing the AT. He is also doing 25 miles a day, over twice what I can manage.
You meet all kinds out here.
NOC to Cold Springs Shelter. 11.7 miles. 3331 foot climb.
How I feel (video link)
Great day out of the NOC. Had a hiker breakfast at the restaurant, face timed home, then headed back to the woods for a day of climbing. Great weather and good views, especially from a fire tower on Wesser Bald.
Tonight is going to be cold, but I’m snug in my bag. Goodnight Moon.
Nero (near zero) Brown Fork Gap Shelter to NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) via Stecoah Gap. 2.4 miles
Needed a bed after pushing hard for a fee days to rest my feet. Popped out of the woods at Stecoah Gap (NC Highway 143) and caught a ride to the NOC. Traded my boots for my crocks, did laundry, showered twice, ate 3 big meals, slept on a mattress, downloaded a new set of podcasts, made reservations for my next 2 stops and relaxed the afternoon away.
Big climb out of here tomorrow. Another 3000 feet.
Cold Springs Shelter to Siler Bald Shelter. 11.6 miles
A fairly easy day of hiking today. Beautiful weather again with some nice views, especially from the stone observation tower at Wayah Bald. Lots of locals on the trail for a Sunday afternoon walk, with their tiny, fluffy dogs in sweaters.
I was alone at the shelter. After reports of lots of mice at the shelter, I set up my hammock across the meadow from the shelter, ate a quick dinner of tuna on a tortilla, and tucked into the hammock. Stayed warm with the temp dipping into the low 30s.
Tomorrow is a 5 mile hike and a ride into Franklin, NC. You can find me on the map again.
Russell Field Shelter to Fontana “Hilton”. 13.9 miles. Decline of 3,070 feet.
I spent the night in a nice shelter with a retired sherif from Orlando and a helicopter pilot for the Orlando sherif’s office. They started a fire in the shelter’s fireplace and it was warm and toasty.
I woke up at 6:15 and hit the trail by 6:50. I had about 30 minutes on the trail with my headlight. It reminded me of when we used to get up early for our dawn dives on scuba vacations. I moved pretty fast today, averaged almost 2 miles per hour. The trail was mostly green tunnel, without too many views.
I made it out of the Southern boarder of GSMNP and across Fontana Dam by 3:00.
Tonight I’m Sleeping in the Fontana Hilton, one of the most famous shelters on the trail. It is lakeside with a great view, and has a restroom with a shower just up the path. It looks like it could hold 24 hikers, but we only had 4 last night.
It was a great birthday, I’ll celebrate more next time I get to a town.
Hoping to get some cell/wifi service soon so I can upload posts and pics.
Tri Corner Knob Shelter to Icewater Spring Shelter. 12.6 Miles
Left the shelter around 8:00 am. Hiked through drizzle and cool temps all day. Only views were of clouds. Had another 10+ mile day.
The excitement of the day was passing the 100 mile mark.
Arrived at the shelter, and there were already 18 bodies in a shelter for 12. So I set up my hammock in the rain. The storm is supposed to move on tonight, I’m hoping so, because everything will be wet if we get another day of rain.
Met a really nice father hiking with his college age daughter. Just letting you know that hiking dads are cool.
Icewater Spring Shelter to Mt. Collins Shelter. 7.5 miles
After all of the rain yesterday, it cleared up sometime durning the night. I woke up at midnight to clear skies and stars twinkling. I was on the trail by 9:00, in good spirits, but with wet boots.
Hiked down 3 miles past swarms on day hikers to the Newfound Gap Parking lot. It might as well have been the Goofy Lot at Disney World.
As soon as my boots hit pavement, I heard, “look honey, he’s a real hiker”. It was kind of fun getting all the attention and questions. I guess I at least look the part.
To my surprise, a Trail Angel was waiting for me. A very nice retired guy was waiting for long distance hikers with fruit, Mountain Dew, ok, fuel and band aids. Between the shot of Dew and a great crispy Apple, I was ready for the rest of the trail. I made it to the shelter at 3:00 and was able to put my gear out to dry. A group of REI Tour hikers just showed up, and they are pretty clueless, but well equipped. They may be pretty entertaining.
I’m hoping to get out early and make the 3 miles to Clingmans Dome in the morning.