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Friday, October 29, 2010

More soon (but not for long)

Hi friends!

This is to let you all know that I've gone ahead and set a finish date. Next Saturday, November 6th I'll be walking up Springer Mtn. in the early afternoon. Immediately after, I'm planning on going home to take a hot shower and change into some cotton clothing before heading to The Vortex to eat the biggest burger on the menu. You're all welcome to join me there for dinner if you'd like. After that I'll be living with my parents fo most of November before heading back to Q
Address until A'ville:
195 Valley Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30305

P.O. Box 7322
Asheville, NC 28802

more to come soon!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rocky Top, you'll always be home, sweet home to me...

Monday, October 25, 2010

I actually just utilized the Coors Cold Activated Can to determine whether I should start 11:58AM. Not blue yet.

Monday, October 11, 2010

OK, so I'm back in Tennessee

Since I wrote last, the trail has become increasingly more beautiful and interesting; fall crept in seemingly overnight and I'm finally back in peak shape. I will say though: my body is still limited to a certain number of consecutive 24-27 mile days.

I finally left the unbelievably long (10 miles short of 1/4 of the trail) state of Virginia and hit Tennessee for two days before touching the border of North Carolina. Only one state left to touch now! The trail here literally crosses back and forth over the TN/NC border dozens of times through this 150 stretch. I since passed into Great Smoky Mountains National Park and will soon be fully in North Carolina for 85 more miles before finally crossing that last state line into the Peach State for the last few days of my trip.

The first stretch of the NC/TN border included Roan Mountain, the first 6000 footer since Mt. Washington in NH- nearly 1,600 miles and 3.5 months ago on the trail. This and Unaka Mtn. are both remarkebly similar to the green and white mountains of New England except Goethe lack of treeline down South. The great Southern grassy balds of Hump Mtn. (where there was sadly but understandably no sign to...uh, photograph in a completely appropriate and mature fashion. Yup), Grassy Ridge, Jenny's knob, Beauty Spot and many others ar truly a magnificent sight that I'd like to share personally with anyone who hasn't seen them. You won't need to convince me to go. Tennessee and North Carolina apple orchards supplemented my meager foodsack contents often through this stretch. What perfect timing!

Erwin, TN didn't have much, but Uncle Johnny's Hostel on the Nolichucky and my first Mexican food on trail (Taco Bell not counting of course) were reason enough to take my time with some thruhikers I had just met: Guac, Queso and Stump. The next night we all camped at Bald Mtn. Shelter (one of the highest on the trail), made smores and experinced a swarming of salamanders out of the rain around our fire. Maybe there's something to the myth... On Big Bald, I had the opportunity to watch a bird banding program at work. The volunteer even let me hold and release a Tennessee Warbler, Dark-eyed (slate-colored) Junco and Swainson's Thrush. Great sunrise view from the bald after my bird extravaganza.

Here's where my trip took a turn for the different. As soon as I crossed I26 for the first time I thumbed into Asheville to meet friends and go to LEAF. Thanks to MJ Sailor for the last minute ticket! Thanks too to all of my amazing friends for taking a smelly, sweaty hobo hiker into their homes and allowing me to shower, do laundry and sleep. It was very kind of all of you. As a matter of fact, I had more offers for places to sleep than I spent nights in the city! LEAF was amazing of course. I'm especially pleased with the little bit of newfounfld confidence that allowed me to happily do everything that I wanted to. The poetry slam was absolutely unbelievable as usual, but some other highlghts were learning to Cajun dance, Cailen and David (Contraversial), and most of all spending time with dear friends, all of whom I'm happy to say seem happy :). I honestly can't wait to return to my home city and all of the wonderful people that I share it with.

With hardly any sleep, but plenty of extra calories to burn off in the remaining 17 days I said goodbye. Then stayed anoher day, then said goodbye again. On the way out of town, Adina and (Patick?) turned around on Broadway and drove me all the way to Hot Springs. I am so forunate to have such generous friends. Sadly, I discovered in Hot Springs that my pack has a broken stay. They're sending me a new one in Gatlinburg, but I'll have to deal with it jabbing into my hip until then. Also, the Rock Bottom bar lives up to it's name. Onwards out of the valley and back on the trail after a week off!

I'm going to split this up so as to be a litle bit more managable to read. More to come soon!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

North Carolina!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Changing Seasons

So I left Wood's Hole finally and hauled to meet my dad near Troutdale to hike Grayson Highlands together. This included my 2nd biggest day: 27 miles. Sight unseen I picked a spot for him to meet me. It just so happened that out of the 540 miles in VA, this was by far the prettiest. Some of the highlights:
-Feral Ponies! In order to maintain the bald mountains here, ponies were introduced to graze and trample down. They're very small, but fat and happy. Quite tenacious, too. As much as it would have been a cool story to have been attacked by wild ponies, I decided not to try and ride one. Maybe some day...
-Snow. That's right, it snowed and sleeted on us on Tuesday. Yesterday however, was a quintessential fall day: it started cold and windy and slowly warmed up to mid-70s golden sunlight and long shadows in a wood ever more diverse in color. Fall is in full swing, folks. I sent my hammock home and replaced it's weight with a warm fleece, long johns, gloves and a stove. This week I cooked for the first time in 1,300 miles. I'm definitely glad for hot food again. The weather should be warmer again through the weekend, but It's still chilly at night. Never before have I noticed the vast differences in the changing of the seasons.

The best part was definitely getting to hike and spend some uninterrupted time with my dad. (As one hiker pointed out, Paps is meeting his Pops to hike). I've had a chance to see my mom and brother briefly further North, so now that rounds out my family visits. We had a great time hiking over the big balds of the highlands through some gorgeous scenery. It was cold, but we had a warm fire both nights, drank some J.D. (what can I say, my dad knows how to pack for a 3 day trip), and played cribbage. I've been practicing. When we got to town we had burgers and beer before I had to say good bye. It was hard- 3 days flew by and I wish there had been more time. It just means we'll have to plan more trips like this in the future. Truth be told, much of our time talking was spent discussing what would make good trips in the future.

Right now I'm in Damascus, VA (supposedly the friendliest town on the trail) drinking coffee at Mojoe's, which happens to serve my favorite coffee from Leopard Forest in T.R. South Carolina. Time to move on down the trail. My nightly stops are a lot more specific now as I have to stay in shelters exclusively. we go!


P.S. I'll finally be out of Virginia today!