Sunday, April 27, 2008

walking the N.C./Tenessee line

for a while now (since the smokies) we've been walking on the state boundaries of TN and NC. right now we are in Erwin, TN., or just outside of it at a little hostel with cabins. everyone here is stuck due to the weather as the skies opened up yesterday and haven't stopped. but against the smart thing to do, we are gonna risk the continued down pour and head on today! very different from a week ago after lounging in some hot springs in Hot Springs. Here's our week:

birthday treatment, Hot Springs

looking back at Hot Springs

weird little dam in the middle of nowhere!

there's been quite a few grassy areas (balds) recently, which is nice to change up the scenery a little

the trees are alive?!

the best trail magic so far...

..thanks Fal & Hercules (thru hikers '99)

yes, i ate a banana split!

then we saw a copperhead snake - one of the two most dangerous snakes on the trail. it went at me when i got to close, unnoticing, then stayed in its coiled up pose here for a while. we got pass with no probs though!

ridgewalking, a hard day after a full belly!

susnet on the ridge, yet we were far from any campsite. had to just throw up the tent.

there's been quite a few gravestones along the way.

some spots definately remind me of england

trillium, as far as the eye can see! no joke, there were valleys of them and other wildflowers.

coffee stop. more trail magic.

and more wildfowers

Big Bald, elevation 5516
group shot on Big Bald, we're smiling cause we're almost done for the day!

With no trees, we follow the white blazes on posts

Nice little footbridge after an unexpected climb from Spivey Gap

Another unexpected change, due to prescribed burning there was a detour from the trail

We walked for a few miles on this road viewing the controlled burns

Then we were back on the trail, catching a glimpse of the sun admist the smoke

First view of Erwin, TN and the Nolichucky River, also where the rain began to pour!
We ran down the mountain and made it safely to Uncle Johnny's Hostel.

P.S. sorry if we haven't responded to people who have emailed us, its been hard to put up the blog and email with the time we have in town. we will try and get back to everyone when we have a bit more time!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

turns, twists and tales from the trail

The trail is full of twists and turns. It seems like the hike has really started since the last blog, as going through the smokies and beyond has really tested us in many different ways. some days everthings feelin great, the suns out and your literally on top of the world...then the next day your feet hurt, your sick of the dried food, and then it starts snowing! Or more significantly, external factors can turn the journey upside down. Unfortunately this happened and we lost one of the "fearsome four" (as we were called) as "Cathole" Chris had to go home due to a family emergency. We are all thinking of you and your family cathole, and hope that you will rejoin team group sooner or later!

O-pop & Cathole

first night in the smokies and the snow started to fall...

...and fall and fall long into the second day.

aftermath of a snowy day, wet gear, and cold bodies huddled around a fire

but there were smiles

Our first snow camping experience, but we did wake up to sun!

makes for a beautiful surrounding, but hard to hike in

Look its Mr. Winky( a Dam good mascot found at Fontana Dam) He and I are enjoying the view at Clingman's Dome on a clear day. Clingman's Dome is the highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail at 6, 643 ft.

views from atop the observation tower...

looking back on the trail we just walked.

more hiking in the snow, it seemed to be never ending

and then it turned into slush and mud

A morning sunrise at Icewater Spring shelter, mile 207.6. Today would be our first 20 miler!

Heading out of the Smokies, we encountered green lush surroundings. As Hiker Dave said, I thought Robin Hood might pop out, cause it looked just like Sherwood Forest!
And we made it to Standing Bear Farm, about the coolest Hostel around.
Outdoor shower and a store full of treats , we were set. Thanks Curtis!

Doing laundry the old fashion way, washboard and all.
Our first Bear Sighting! A sow and two cubs scurried out of sight as we approached about 100 yards away. this is the best picture we got.
Max Patch Summit was amazing, at 4,629 ft we got great views of the smokies.

You can't tell but it was extremely windy. It was worth it though, probably one of the most beautiful spots on the trail so far.

Hiked back up the summit at night to watch a lightning storm behind the clouds, as well as watching the moon rise.

Welcome to Hot Springs, NC. Here we stayed at Elmer's Sunnybank Inn. Built in the 1840's, this house was taken over by Elmer Hall in 1977 and converted into an Inn and Retreat Center. We had the best meal so far here where organic vegetarian dishes are served daily.
And of course we had to celebrate Kevin's 25th birthday with a little beer! Thanks to Aaron, Mosey, Pixie, Muffin Paste and Blaze!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

ready for the smokies

Writing to you from Robbinsville, NC. Since Franklin we have hiked to Fontana Dam, NC at mile 162.9. We've been fortunate to have sunny, dry weather, and a few trail magic encounters. We've had some of our hardest hiking days climbing over 3,000 ft in elevation in about 6 miles. We've also, had some flat trail allowing us to cruise at 3 mph! Made good time to Fontana Dam and met my parents once again to spend a day in a friend's cabin and re-group before we start into the Smoky Mountain National Park Sunday.
Siler Bald, one of many balds that were once clearcut and now remain a clear grassy field. Allows for good views at least.

Amazing view hiking down to the Nantahala River, looking ahead to our steep climb!

Relaxing near the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where we picked up our mail drop, ate chili fries and drank beer!

Kevin spotted what we think is an Eastern Ratsnake sunbathing right off the trail. It was approximately 3 and half feet long!

After encountering Bare Bear with the largest trail magic spread yet! Chris is crossing the road at Stecoah Gap, elevation 3,165.

Kath is all smiles after finding her throne at Cable Gap Shelter.

Tent city at Cable Gap.

We witnessed a momentous occassion at Cable Gap. A guy named Longshot threw the tallest bear hang in history, we would say about 50 feet. We have to humor ourselves somehow.

White trillium, signs of spring are blossoming.

Wildflowers line the trail to Fontana Dam.

Here's a Dam picture.
View from dam.

After enjoying a nice evening in the cabin we awoke and took the canoe out, thankful to be using our arms, not our legs.

More realxing, mom sleeping, me playing solitaire.

Kevin's favorite restaraunt. Only spot in town for wireless, so we could write to all of you!