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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Milestones

Much has happened since our last post. We have hiked an additional 110 miles and are now at mile 274. We started the Smokies on a hot day, with a late start and broken tent poles (which Kelty graciously replaced - thanks Bart@kelty). The terrain on the first day was a grueling, steep uphill hike. The difficulty was in part due to our nine days of food, which made our packs extremely heavy. I'll admit that it took a bit of a toll on me and Keith had to take on some of my weight too. The day afforded some terrific views though, one atop a rickety fire tower that even Keith refused to climb all the way to the top. The rules in the Smokies require that hikers stay in the shelters unless they are full, and then you may pitch a tent. We were late getting in so shelter space was taken and we found one of the last available spaces to pitch our broken tent. We found out that one of the hikers who has been stopping at roughly the same areas as us got hypothermia from pushing on through the rain storm that turned into an ice storm a few days earlier. We were so glad that we stopped short that day and stayed at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

We discovered on our first night ever in a shelter, that many people snore LOUDLY. We endured several hours of a hiker named Hamster (everyone has trail names) whose snore was like a jet engine on steroids. A hiker sleeping on the bottom level underneath him got so irritated that he pounded on the bunk and Hamster vacated the shelter at two a.m.

Our weather has ranged from very cold to very hot. One day we stopped after just six miles because we were in full sun at about 85 degrees and I got heat exhaustion. Two days later we were hiking in jackets and gloves. That day, we watched as the clouds rose up and swirled around us.

We have been witnessing spring as it happens and love that we can see buds turn into leaves and the wildflowers bloom. Yesterday as we came down the mountain in to town, we came through an area that was green and beautiful, full of interesting plants and flowers we hadn't seen before.

Taking a rest day in the quaint little town of Hot Springs, NC.

Pics below are not great, but show a little of shelter life, the hillside in green and Keith at the marker at mile 265 (1914 miles to Katahdin).











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