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).
Monday, April 1, 2013
Georgia weather was cold and snowy for most of our journey. At our stop on day four, we realized that we were not as prepared for the weather as we thought, and we ended up having to buy me big waterproof snow mittens since my hands were continually going numb. Despite the fact that the trail has been difficult to traverse because of slippery mud (Keith and I both fell) and ice and snow, we are loving our adventure. Every day we meet new and interesting people. We have been the recipients of unbelievable kindness and generosity. Random folks have left snacks and cold drinks at many of the trail heads. A few days ago we were coming down the trail where it crossed a dirt road, and there were two groups of folks with food set up, and a big bonfire going. One couple drove from their home outside Atlanta to greet hikers with chili dogs, home baked goods, sodas, water, Chapstick, tissues, etc. free to hikers passing through. Their son had thru-hiked last year and they wanted to show kindness to other hikers. Amazing! Last night, after hiking for the last three miles in the rain, we were greeted by the Omelet Angels, who had large canopy tents and tables set up, and were feeding hikers made to order omelets, biscuits, bacon, sandwiches, coffee, etc. just to be kind. They also gave us a ride in to Franklin, where we are taking a rest day today. Yesterday we passed the 100 mile mark atop Mt. Albert. What an incredible feeling! If I can hook up my camera, we'll post more pics. Below are those from my phone: Keith and I at the GA/NC border, at the 100 mile mark, and the group pic is of the Omelet Angels.