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.

When I got here a trail angle left some pb and j sandwiches and power aid drinks at the shelter. I had a sandwich while I waited for my supply box to get brought over.

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.

Trail Angel

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.

All down hill from here, but not literally

Mt. Collins shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter.   13.8 miles

 I was up early and on the trail by 7:00. Headed to Climgman’s Dome, the highest elevation on the entire AT, at 6,655 feet. 

 As I walked up to the observation tower, I overheard a lady in her 30’s complain to her male partner,  “I just walked up a mountain, I’m not walking up a ramp to see more trees”.   Add a few popular swears for exact quote. I had to chuckle since they probably woke up at a hotel with a continental breakfast, drove up the mountain in their rented Sentra, were they walked uphill from 5 minutes from the parking lot and I literally walked up the mountain. 

Just before I reached the shelter, I saw a line of about 40 wild turkey in a hurry to get someplace.  I was surprised they didn’t answer my world famous turkey call. 

  The rest of the day was a great long walk with sunny blue skies. Made it to the full shelter at 4:00, set up the hammock, ate some cous cous and butterscotch pudding and crawled into my bag. 

Blue turns to grey

Cosby Knob Shelter to Tri-Corner Knob Shelter. 7.7 miles.

 Did a few less miles today and will make up the miles tomorrow since today was another 1500 foot climb.   Had rain all morning , but embraced the coolness.  The rain stopped about 1:00, and gave way to the clouds blowing through making the ridge I was on look like a background for a Scooby Doo caper.

Made it to the shelter by 3:00 and the sun came out. We are expecting a storm tonight, so I’m sleeping in the shelter.  My goal is to hit the trail by 8:00 and knock out the miles. The trail looks like a bunch of ups and downs, nothing too steep.

No Room at the Inn

Standing Bear Hostel to Cosby Knob Shelter.  10.7 miles.  3,589 feet elevation gain.

Woke up in the tree house, ate breakfast in the kitchen of the hostel, then started the long climb into GSMNP. Inside the park, thru hikers are required to sleep in the shelters, unless they are full, then we can set up a tent or hammock within eyesight of the shelter. Since we have 13 tonight in a shelter for 12, I volunteered for hammock duty.

There are new privies at the shelters. Just in case you could get here in a wheelchair, the privy is accessible.

Great day of climbing, looking forward to the rest of the park.

Tree House

Groundhog Creek Shelter to Standing Bear Farm Hostel. 6.9 miles.

Gave myself a shorter day today so I could spend the night in a tree house at Standing Bear Farm Hostel, pick up a box, wash some clothes, and gear up for a 5000 foot climb into the Great Smoky Mtn Nat Park (GSMNP) tomorrow.


Went through a second bald this morning, Snowbird Mtn,  great view, flowers, critters, and an alien looking pod that hummed. It is some kind of FAA radar. I put on my foil hat as I passed just in case.


I will enjoy the rustic pleasures of this place, along with the drinkable water, hot outdoor shower, and plugs for recharging the phone.

I’m not bald…

Walnut Mtn Shelter to Groundhog Creek Shelter. 13 miles. 

Another long mileage day. Not too much climbing.  Really enjoyed Max Patch, a mountain that is bald in top,  it is just grass covered. The views up there are stunning. I wished I could have stopped for a nap. Lots of folks up there on this beautiful day enjoying a picnic and some very happy dogs running around. Pictures to follow soon when i get to wifi. 

I’m the youngster in the shelter tonight. Sharing the space with 3 section hikers in their mid-60s.   I have the hammock set without the tarp so I can see the stars twinkle. 

Can’t forget the mashed potatoes and salami and butterscotch pudding for dinner. Yum Yum 

Blue Sky Smiling at Me

Hot Springs, NC to Walnut Mountain Shelter.   13.1 miles, 3,126 feet elevation gain. Total trip miles 57.1

Got up early after a great night in a bed after a shower at the hostel. Had a great breakfast in town with eggs, potatoes, and this brown goo they put on a biscuit. Stopped by the outfitter for a new tip for my hiking pole. I hit the trail at 9:30. It was a long mileage day with a 3000 foot gain in elevation with a pack full of food.   The elevation worried me, but I’m getting my hiking legs and moved right through.  It was a great sunny day with a bright blue sky. Enjoyed hiking on the trail covered in a carpet at Autumn leaves. Made it to the shelter at 6:00 with time to set up the hammock and cook dinner. Enjoyed some peppered turkey jerky my wonderful wife bought for me with some dressing.  On to Max Patch tomorrow. 

 Hot Springs in the morning 


Here comes the sun

Spring mountain shelter to Hot Springs, North Carolina 11 miles

Up and out of the shelter by 9 o’clock had a restaurant meal on my mind the trip was mostly downhill into Hot Springs, North Carolina.   The sun was out it was a beautiful day for hiking. Although I was pelted with acorns and Chestnut blown from the trees. 

The numbers are getting smaller. Springer Mountain is zero.   

The view into Hot Springs   

A raging river from all of the rain.   

The first sunshine on the trail.  I am currently at the laughing heart hostile, Enjoying a shower and a bed tomorrow.  Up early for a town breakfast stop at the outfitters grabbing a sub to go for dinner and I’m off on the big climb tomorrow.

My town dinner   

A T blaze in this on the sidewalk 

Laughing Heart Hostel, a great place to stay