So we're a bit behind on updating the blog, in the last 11 days since the Smokys we have been through 2 towns, enjoied a beautiful afternoon on Max Patch, and attended Trail Fest. Also we got caught in some of the worst weather conditions I hope to ever see on trail.
Max Patch was georgious -
I took a 360 panarama -
And Speedy proved he is a culinary generous -
Joshua used his lehigh education to solve a rigging problem at one rocky campsite -
Over enginnered?? Yes. Took him an hour? Also yes. Cool? Totally.
Hard to see, but we camped on a little rocky outcropping just big enough for our tents, right next to a waterfall! Georgious!
Moving on -- Trail Fest in Hot Springs, NC was adorable!
What a happy little town! They even have their very own, real life, Leslie Knope (Parks and Rec)!!! She was the best.
My darling Marguerite came to visit, and we went rock climbing and even had a hot tub!
A turn for the worst! After a wonderful weekend and last last night camping on the river...
(Solar charger in the tree branches!)
It rained all night and well into next day, then as we climbed elevation the temperature began to drop dangerously. Our gear was soaked and beginning to freeze; the trail was flooded in parts and snow covered in others. We even were pelted by hail at times! Jeremy may elaborate in another post, but I had to call it about 5 miles early and, with frozen feet and finger, numbly set up my tent on a blizzard. It took me about 5 hours in my bag to regain normal thinking ability and feeling in my extremities. The night, alone, was mostly sleepless with temperatures down near 0 degrees F. All my snowboarding gear, 20 deg bag and 15 deg liner were just enough to keep me alive... Not enough to let me sleep.
I took some photos the morning after -
Luckally everybody knew what to do in this situation - make sure you, yourself, are safe. Jeremy and Josh made it to the shelter and warmed up by a fire. Nobody got lost, nobody went out looking for the others in the horrid conditions. We all were regrouped by 1PM the next day. And, as the snow melted, it turned into another beautiful day!
Sorry all for the lack of blog posts. We had a problem with posting on the computer in Erwin, TN but we promise to have lots of updates when we get into Damascus, VA on Saturday! Highlights will include: first 20+ mile day on Easter, finishing off 2 more states, surpassing the 20% mark, and a marathon day! Look for the exciting updates this weekend.
With the number of people that you meet on the trail and the majority of them being John, Matt, or Chris, trail names come about as a way to distinguish hikers more uniquely. Trail names are normally given to a hiker by their fellow hikers coming from something stupid, heroic, or funny that they did or a part of their gear that makes them stand out. It brings entertainment both in being creative in coming up with names for fellow hikers and also in explaining where your name came from. We have now named everyone in the group that we have been regularly traveling with as well as having group and subgroup names:
Hannah - Poker Face
Eli - Impact
Will - Speedy G
Tim - Rocky Mountain High (aka Rocky)
Taylor - Fromage
The Phast Philly 3 (aka the Engineers)
Josh - Bringing Texty Back (aka Texty)
Chris - Category 5
Jeremy - Mayonnaise Pockets (aka Mayo)
The Brothers Jack
Connor - Little Debbie
Gordon - Der Hundmeister, Ja!
Jack the dog - Boullion
You will have to ask each of then personally where their names came from.
Fontana Dam to Standing Bear Hostel - 5 days and 75 miles (71 in the park)
The biggest struggle we had through the journey was the weather - below freezing every night, raining and cloudy most of the days. Shelters were packed, everything was wet, I would have given anything to be warm and dry.
Hardship aside, we pushed on and averaged 15 miles a day through the park! (recommended is 10-15, so we went over this by a bit). The views we did find were absolutely stunning.
Day 1 - from Shuckstack Mountain, in the rain
Day 2 - everything was frozen
Day 3 - Summit Clingman's and Collin's!
After a lot of confusion with our resupply, and almost having to drop a night and go into Gatlinburg, an absolutely wonderful woman named Calyn was nice enough to drive the package from NOC up to us at Newfound gap -- thank you thank you thank you to her for being such an awesome person!
The resupply completely filled my (empty) pack -
Day 4 - Rain rain, go away!
I'm calling it the Appalachian River. This is no trail.
We did get some good views from Charlies Bunion
Day 5 - And we're out!
The view from Mount Cammer Lookout
This one after the park was pretty good, just before we got to the hostel (note the blazes) -