Trail Zealot

Colorado hiking, Appalachian Trail thru-hiking, and more...

2013 Appalachian Trail Journal

I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2013. The whole thing, from top to bottom, Maine to Georgia. My trail name was Rooster. I had a blast. I posted each day's journal on a blogspot site. Now that some time has passed, I just can't stand to look at that ugly old blog any longer. So I made this expanded blog that will do things my old one couldn't. Daily maps and elevation profiles of my hiking route. All the photos I didn't upload for whatever reason. And some new perspectives from a guy who is 5 years older than when he hiked. I cracked myself up so many times while creating this new and improved trail journal. I really hope it cracks you up too.

  • A public declaration
    Day #-3  |  California  |  April 1, 2013
    For now, this is the closest I can come to shouting from a mountain. In that case, I'll use this platform to publicly and irrevocably proclaim that I will be hiking the entire Appalachian Trail this summer. I'm so excited. I had originally post-dated this entry so no one would think I was making an April Fools joke. For those of you reading who don't know what it's all about, I ... [Read more]
  • Hilton Head, SC to Millinocket, ME
    Day #-2  |  South Carolina, Maine  |  June 11, 2013
    As the title of this post suggests, I am TWO days away from starting my thru hike. Last night, I laid wide awake, wondering what I had forgotten to plan for. It was impossible to distinguish between healthy excitement and gut-wrenching anxiety. After a few hours of rolling around in my sheets, running through scenarios in which I inevitably keeled over somewhere along the Appalachian Trail, I woke up at 4:30 AM to catch ... [Read more]
  • Millinocket, ME
    Day #-1  |  Maine  |  June 12, 2013
    If this post turns out weird, it's because I'm typing on a bluetooth keyboard attached to my phone. Slow going, but this is how I'll be doing it on the trail, which by the way begins TOMORROW! Today started late, as I was making up the sleep I missed the night before. So now I'm feeling good. I headed to Baxter State Park, where I met Ranger Bob at the visitor ... [Read more]
  • Katahdin
    Day #1  |  Maine  |  June 13, 2013
    Well today was the day. I woke up around 5:30 and opened the curtains to see a sunny day that looked like it had begun long before. I had to re-check my watch. Maine is weird. By 7 I was at Katahdin Stream Campground and after grabbing a daypack and signing myself out, I headed out of the campground on the Hunt Trail (also the AT) up Katahdin. The sunny day brought many blessings ... [Read more]
  • Katahdin Stream Campground to Hurd Brook Lean-to
    Day #2  |  Maine  |  June 14, 2013
    Today I embarked from KSC and noticed the Sobros were an hour ahead of me. I decided to try to catch up to them by Abol Bridge, about 10 miles away. Today was a cakewalk compared to Katahdin, which we have actually stopped referring to by name out of spite. A few miles in, I found a stream to ford. It was looking rough but I had to try. I got about halfway across and ... [Read more]
  • Hurd Brook Lean-to to Rainbow Stream Lean-to
    Day #3  |  Maine  |  June 15, 2013
    I woke up last night covered in sweat. I was bundled up in my sleeping bag and its liner, so I was really toasty. I grabbed the bear bags off the line and ate a breakfast of oatmeal with protein powder as the Sobros woke up. We headed out by 8:30, with a fairly gentle 1000-foot climb ahead of us. I felt good and the climb was over before I knew it. Later, we ... [Read more]
  • Rainbow Stream Lean-to to Potaywadjo Stream Lean-to
    Day #4  |  Maine  |  June 16, 2013
    I'm not going to be modest: today was a solid day. I woke up at 5 and got on the trail with Mulligan at 6. We moved slower than the Sobros but we had the early start. I felt much better going more slowly. We hiked up and over Nesuntabunt Mountain and reached Wadleigh Stream Lean-to around 10:30. I was amazed. We met a guy from Israel who had been hiking for about ... [Read more]
  • Potaywadjo Spring Lean-to to East Branch Lean-to
    Day #5  |  Maine  |  June 17, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent...Squeezing 9 people into an 8-person shelter last night was not a big deal. Mulligan just slept perpendicular to the rest of us. It was my first shelter stay out here, and it beat setting up my tent. On other days though, I like the space of tenting. All the guys in the shelter last night turned out to be really nice. It was good to meet a new crop ... [Read more]
  • East Branch Lean-to to Carl A. Newhall Lean-to
    Day #6  |  Maine  |  June 18, 2013
    Currently sitting in the lean-to... Well let me start by saying that Maine had been very flat so far, other than the initial climb on Katahdin. My flat-land trail legs are ready to go, as the last couple days showed. However, today's hike reminded me that the AT is a path through the mountains. I got up at 5 so I would have another peaceful morning hike, and I was on my way by ... [Read more]
  • Carl A. Newhall Lean-to to Cloud Pond Lean-to
    Day #7  |  Maine  |  June 19, 2013
    Currently in my tent next to Cloud Pond...My tent next to Cloud Pond Trail magic! It happened to me for the first time today. Trail magic is a random act of kindness to a thru-hiker. I ran in to Don, a trail maintainer, as I was climbing Chairback Mountain. I talked to him about my thru-hike plans and asked him about growing up in Maine. He also told me that the two varieties of ... [Read more]
  • Cloud Pond Lean-to to Leeman Brook Lean-to
    Day #8  |  Maine  |  June 20, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent next to the lean-to...Today was another semi-mountainy day but it was made so much sweeter because I'm going to MONSON tomorrow, which means food, shower, laundry, and food. This will be the first trail town I get to visit, so I'll be living large. But that's for tomorrow's post. Today, I left Cloud Pond at 6 (Mulligan suggested my trail name be "Early") and hiked ... [Read more]
  • Leeman Brook Lean-to to Monson
    Day #9  |  Maine  |  June 21, 2013
    Currently sitting in the Lakeshore House common area...My name is Rooster. Just before I went to bed last night, Smooth came up to my tent and told me the news. Apparently "Early" morphed during the campfire conversation. Now I have to live up to my reputation as an early riser. Everyone was up early this morning. The Sobros were in Monson by 6 am, eager for all-you-can-eat breakfast. Doc, Mulligan, and I hiked the ... [Read more]
  • Monson to Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to
    Day #10  |  Maine  |  June 22, 2013
    Currently sitting in the lean-to...Today started late (7!!!) and all the people at Lake Shore House rolled ourselves over to Shaw's for all-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs, hash browns, sausage and bacon. I also enjoyed 25 cups of coffee. I really miss that stuff. Almost everyone except the Sobros and I planned on staying another night in Monson. Around 10, I started getting restless and said my goodbyes to all the great people I've ... [Read more]
  • Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to to Caratunk
    Day #11  |  Maine  |  June 23, 2013
    Currently laying in my tent...With another day comes more knowledge about backpacking. Figuring out all the small things makes the overall experience much better. For example, I finally learned to get my tent pitched the way I like, and as a result my tent didn't take on water during last night's thunderstorm. I've also learned how to move around in here comfortably (here's a tip: don't pitch on a ... [Read more]
  • Caratunk to West Carry Pond Lean-to
    Day #12  |  Maine  |  June 24, 2013
    Currently laying in my tent...With another day comes more knowledge about backpacking. Figuring out all the small things makes the overall experience much better. For example, I finally learned to get my tent pitched the way I like, and as a result my tent didn't take on water during last night's thunderstorm. I've also learned how to move around in here comfortably (here's a tip: don't pitch on a ... [Read more]
  • West Carry Pond Lean-to to Horns Pond Lean-tos
    Day #13  |  Maine  |  June 25, 2013
    Currently sitting in one of the lean-tos...Today was a normal day on the trail. I woke up and got going at the usual time, covered good mileage in the morning, then stopped at a shelter for a break and to refill my water. Next came a climb up Little Bigelow Mountain that forced all the water I had just drank out of my pores. I descended into Safford Notch then stopped for lunch. The ... [Read more]
  • Horns Pond Lean-tos to Spaulding Mountain Lean-to
    Day #14  |  Maine  |  June 26, 2013
    Currently sitting in the lean-to...My plan for today was to hike less than I did (remember yesterday?) but excitement got the better of me again. I got some spring water near the lean-to on the advice of Brick House, a girl staying at the adjacent lean-to. It was amazing, just like she said. It looked awful at the source, but in my bottle, it rocked my world. It was a pretty uneventful five-mile hike ... [Read more]
  • Spaulding Mountain Lean-to to Piazza Rock Lean-to
    Day #15  |  Maine  |  June 27, 2013
    I didn't get saturated today! I started off with my pack's rain cover on, under the assumption that it would soon be pouring. I was wrong, although the thick, humid air remains and the trail is often standing water. The first part of the day meant climbing up Poplar Ridge. It was a hard climb, but I shouldn't have felt so tired. The last couple hard days have sapped my legs. I ... [Read more]
  • Piazza Rock Lean-to to Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to
    Day #16  |  Maine  |  June 28, 2013
    Currently sitting in the lean-to...I woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the shelter roof. So the Rooster didn't crow as early this morning. I did my morning chores mostly from my sleeping bag. I curled up and waited for a break in the rain. When it came, I put on my rain jacket and rain pants, since it was a cold one, and I was off for my 1 ... [Read more]
  • Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to to Black Brook Campsite
    Day #17  |  Maine  |  June 29, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent...Another uneventful day of cloudy and rainy hiking. It's starting to wear on me but I will hold up. I headed out of the shelter this morning back into the slop. I kept my feet dry for as long as I could by dancing along rocks and roots to avoid the mud and water on the trail. Eventually I was warmed up enough to plunge in, a task made ... [Read more]
  • Black Brook to Andover
    Day #18  |  Maine  |  June 30, 2013
    Currently sitting in a bed at Pine Ellis Hostel...Well, today was everything a town stay should be. I hiked to a road, got a hitch, checked in to the hostel, did laundry, showered, ate ate ate, and hung out with new friends. Now to be a little more specific:Clouds can actually make for a cool view (Hall Mountain) The hike this morning started out with a steep ascent, descent, and ascent. I was ... [Read more]
  • Andover to Bull Branch Campsite
    Day #19  |  Maine  |  July 1, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent...Lesson number one of today is not to cook in the vestibule of your tent, but more on that in a bit. I moseyed down to the Andover General Store once more for coffee, toast, an omelette, and blueberry pancakes. Sprout and Turducken joined me, so I got to say my goodbye for now. At 8 I hopped in the car with David the innkeeper and I was soon hiking ... [Read more]
  • Bull Branch Campsite to Gentian Pond Shelter
    Day #20  |  Maine, New Hampshire  |  July 2, 2013
    Currently sitting in the lean-to...Moose ARE real! Today I slogged the twelve easy miles over Cascade Mountain and Mount Hayes into Gorham, NH. At the end of my morning hike, the AT began to follow a road near town. Think white blazes on the backsides of traffic signs and on telephone poles. Keep in mind that I have walked 300 miles through the most moose-ridden territory known to mankind, encountering their perfect pellet poop ... [Read more]
  • Gentian Pond Shelter to Rattle River Shelter
    Day #21  |  Maine, New Hampshire  |  July 3, 2013
    Currently sitting in the lean-to...Moose ARE real! Today I slogged the twelve easy miles over Cascade Mountain and Mount Hayes into Gorham, NH. At the end of my morning hike, the AT began to follow a road near town. Think white blazes on the backsides of traffic signs and on telephone poles. Keep in mind that I have walked 300 miles through the most moose-ridden territory known to mankind, encountering their perfect pellet poop ... [Read more]
  • Rattle River Shelter to Carter Notch Hut
    Day #22  |    |  July 4, 2013
    Currently sitting on the floor of the Hut...Welcome to the Whites! For so long I have dreaded the wicked climbs and logistical hassles of the White Mountain National Forest. Today I finally got to jump in. My day began with a gentle climb similar to the terrain yesterday, but the slope just kept increasing. All told, I ended up on the summit of Mount Moriah, 2700 feet above the shelter. It was the morning ... [Read more]
  • Carter Notch Hut to Madison Spring Hut
    Day #23  |  New Hampshire  |  July 5, 2013
    Currently sitting in the dining room of the hut...It's a great day to be in the Whites! Paranoid about getting caught in the infamous afternoon thunderstorms, I skipped out on a hot breakfast at Carter Notch Hut and set out early. My legs were still feeling adequately sapped from yesterday as I climbed Wildcat Mountain, which is home to a ski resort in the winter. I got to the top before I knew ... [Read more]
  • Madison Spring Hut to Mizpah Spring Hut
    Day #24  |  New Hampshire  |  July 6, 2013
    Currently sitting in the hut "library"...I woke up this morning to the smell of coffee, pancakes, and oatmeal. My eyes snapped open, and my pack was packed up and out of the way in about 7 minutes. I sat and drank a couple glorious cups of coffee with my new thru-hiker friends and chatted about what the next few days had in store for each of us. Blue Moon gave me the address to ... [Read more]
  • Mizpah Spring Hut to Guyot Shelter
    Day #25  |  New Hampshire  |  July 7, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter...Alright, the Whites were kind to me again today. I started off from Mizpah before breakfast, wanting to finally have a day with some solid mileage after yesterday's snoozefest. Also, I was motivated to make it farther than the next hut because I really wanted to get a full night's sleep. This 7-hour schedule induced by the huts has left me feeling sapped. I could tell as soon ... [Read more]
  • Guyot Shelter to Lincoln, NH
    Day #26  |  New Hampshire  |  July 8, 2013
    Currently sitting in Chet's Hostel...It seems to be the norm that I come up with a plan, only to scrap it based on how I'm feeling. That's the way of the Appalachian Trail, though! I crowed this morning around 5 and was rolling by 6. Unfortunately, the first mile I did wasn't one that counted, as I had to walk back up the side trail. There was a light rain ... [Read more]
  • Zero in Lincoln, NH
    Day #27  |  New Hampshire  |  July 9, 2013
    Well would you look at that. No miles in my ledger for the day. Wouldn't it make sense that this would be a sunny day? Ah well, better to enjoy town. The day started after ten hours of restful sleep with chocolate chip pancakes at the Pancake House with Pirate and Smiles, two sobos staying at Chet's. My resupply at the gas station was pretty light because I still had so much food ... [Read more]
  • Lincoln, NH to Beaver Brook Shelter
    Day #28  |  New Hampshire  |  July 10, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter...Today went just as planned, so I'm a happy camper (get it??). I ate four of my maple donuts from last night and had a small seizure, then started getting my stuff together. I was waiting on the curb when the shuttle pulled up. Despite being from a trail town, the driver had questions about the trail. I happily answered. I'll talk to anyone about the AT. She ... [Read more]
  • Beaver Brook Shelter to Hexacuba Shelter
    Day #29  |  New Hampshire  |  July 11, 2013
    The Whites are over, but the Hunger is here. Hiker hunger kicks in around this time on the AT. I thought I had it before, but that was just the beginning. I woke up last night to go to the bathroom, and all I could think about was how hungry I was. I've been eating the same food from before, but now it's not enough. I made plans this morning to stop at ... [Read more]
  • Hexacuba Shelter to Moose Mountain Shelter
    Day #30  |  New Hampshire  |  July 12, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent... I woke up to a crisp, cool morning. I didn't really want to leave my sleeping bag, so I did every possible part of my morning ritual with my legs still inside the cocoon. It was great not to wake up to rain. The sun was shining! Instead of my rain jacket, I put on my nano puff jacket to start. I left my pack cover stowed away. The ... [Read more]
  • Moose Mountain Shelter to Happy Hill Shelter
    Day #31  |  New Hampshire, Vermont  |  July 13, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent... With Hanover on my mind, I got ready quickly this morning. The flat terrain over which I travel makes it hard not to try for personal record speeds. My goal was to average 3 miles an hour for the 10.9 miles into town. I took off too quickly and my breakfast started sloshing around in my stomach. Luckily, I came to the stream where I planned to grab some ... [Read more]
  • Happy Hill Shelter to the Lookout
    Day #32  |  Vermont  |  July 14, 2013
    Currently sitting in the Lookout cabin... Today started exactly half an hour late because I had plans to arrive at the West Hartford general store at exactly 8 AM for opening. I strolled the easy four miles to the convenience store and sat on the steps for the few minutes before it opened. I was joined in this excitement by Miler, a northbound section hiker. Miler is one of the lucky people who was born ... [Read more]
  • The Lookout to Cooper Lodge Shelter
    Day #33  |  Vermont  |  July 15, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter... This morning, I climbed on to the roof to check out the sunrise. Unfortunately, the sun itself was obscured by clouds, but I found the colors great and the stillness soothing. I packed up and said adios to my fellow sobos, taking my time over the rolling hills. I dropped down to a brook and filled up my water bottles, a task that I've had to do more often ... [Read more]
  • Cooper Ridge Shelter to Minerva Hinchey Shelter
    Day #34  |  Vermont  |  July 16, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter... Just a reminder that "miles today" refers to net miles traveled correctly on the AT on this day. Moving on. I started today off by deciding not to go up to the peak to watch the sunrise. The first thing I did in the morning would have been getting out of my comfy, clean sleeping socks and into my mud-hardened hiking socks for a trip up the steep slope, so ... [Read more]
  • Minerva Hinchey Shelter to Styles Peak
    Day #35  |  Vermont  |  July 17, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent... I have to start off by talking about last night. The mosquitoes were torturous. In Maine, the little black flies go home to their families after dark. Mosquitoes have no such morals. They stayed up all night buzzing in my ears and biting through my clothes. I had to duck in to my sleeping bag for protection, but I woke up drenched in sweat. I think I'll be staying ... [Read more]
  • Styles Peak to Manchester Center
    Day #36  |  Vermont  |  July 18, 2013
    Currently sitting at the Green Mountain House computer... Today was one of those days where it seemed like absolutely everything went smoothly. I fell asleep so quickly last night that I don't even remember laying down. I woke up to my alarm, presumably never having woken up in between. It was the perfect temperature on the peak, and I was completely undisturbed by bugs. That set me off on the right path. I was ... [Read more]
  • Manchester Center to Kid Gore Shelter
    Day #37  |  Vermont  |  July 19, 2013
    Currently sitting at the Kid Gore picnic table... I gotta finish up talking about last night before I move on to today. The hostel was very quiet, like quiet hours were in effect. Four people sat in the living room, reading and sitting silently. I never thought I'd be one to say this, but I come to hostels to talk and watch TV!! I couldn't do either, and I felt like I might ... [Read more]
  • Kid Gore Shelter to Seth Warner Shelter
    Day #38  |  Vermont  |  July 20, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter... Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't have it all. I started hiking this morning, saying bye to my to Long Trail friends. I got to another mountain with another observation tower whose name I forget. The hike down to the next shelter was pretty uneventful and fast. I got there around 10:30, having completed over 12 miles. I talked to a couple of early ... [Read more]
  • Seth Warner Shelter to Cheshire, MA
    Day #39  |  Vermont, Massachusetts  |  July 21, 2013
    Currently sitting in the auditorium of St. Mary's church... Chocolate chip pancakes are not mountain climbing fuel. I gave my sobo section hiker a 30 minute head start to the Friendly's in North Adams, then I started off myself. I got to the Massachusetts border in about an hour, celebrating with a few pictures and my theme song. Boy did I have a morning face on. The forest immediately changed character. I don ... [Read more]
  • Cheshire, MA to Upper Goose Pond Cabin
    Day #40  |  Massachusetts  |  July 22, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent... AHHHH I wrote everything and then it got deleted. What follows is a very abridged version of a good day.The Cookie Lady's house I walked smooth miles from Cheshire to Dalton, meeting another sobo named Brightside along the way. He's pretty fast, so I think I will see him again. In Dalton, I ate a veggie burger and a foamy hot beverage, and resupplied, then hiked back ... [Read more]
  • Upper Goose Pond Cabin to Great Barrington, MA
    Day #41  |  Massachusetts  |  July 23, 2013
    Currently laying in a bed in the Monument Mountain Motel... It finally rained! After staying dry all the way from Glencliff, NH, I finally had to deal with the stuff today. Or really, last night. I had to keep my sleeping bag away from the side mesh on the tent, as the pounding rain had moistened it. Technically my sleeping bag isn't supposed to get wet, but we are in the woods. I performed ... [Read more]
  • Great Barrington, MA to Brassie Brook Shelter
    Day #42  |  Massachusetts, Connecticut  |  July 24, 2013
    Currently sitting in the lean-to... Today began sort of late because I slept in after watching TV until 11 last night. I deem it totally worth it. I turned the glowing box on again this morning so I could check the weather one last time...yep, it was still looking good. No rain on the horizon and temps maxing out in the upper 70s in the valleys. I quickly packed up the remainder of my ... [Read more]
  • Brassie Brook Shelter to Caesar Brook Campsite
    Day #43  |  Connecticut  |  July 25, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent... I believe today is the start of my new hiking philosophy: not doing as many miles as I possibly can, thus enjoying the day. I would like to claim that I succeeded. Last night in the shelter, Brightside and I came to the realization that in order to make it to the Sharon Post Office before closing time, I would have to do 22 miles before roughly 3:30. Considering ... [Read more]
  • Caesar Brook Campsite to Ten Mile River Shelter
    Day #44  |  Connecticut, New York  |  July 26, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter... Another day, another town. That's how it has become out here. You won't hear me complaining, though. I love the woods and mountains, but I also like town food and social interaction. Today's victim was Kent, CT. Earlier in the day, I bypassed the town of Cornwall Bridge, which has a package store that promises a free beer to thru-hikers. I figured 7 AM was a little ... [Read more]
  • Ten Mile River Shelter to RPH Shelter
    Day #45  |  Connecticut, New York  |  July 27, 2013
    Currently sitting at the RPH picnic table... Today I welcomed another visitor on my hike. This time I met up with Ben, a friend from my undergrad club running team. He's lives in Connecticut, so he made the quick drive across the border to hike with me on my first day in the state of New York. The trail was kind to me on my trip to our meeting spot, so I arrived at ... [Read more]
  • RPH Shelter to Hemlock Springs Campsite
    Day #46  |  New York  |  July 28, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent... The nobos were up late into the night, but having my own agenda, I popped in my earplug and went to sleep in the fetal position, my gut full of pizza. I woke, got ready, and left before any of my bunkmates began stirring. I guess we're just on different schedules. The hiking was fast but choppy; I had to pay attention to rocks all over the path. This ... [Read more]
  • Hemlock Springs Campsite to Buchanan Mountain
    Day #47  |  New York  |  July 29, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent... New York doesn't just let you have miles. I looked at the elevation profile last night and thought it would be an easy day. I was utterly mistaken. Maybe I should take that back. There are miles to instill hope, followed by those that rip it away. I believe Bane from The Dark Knight Rises said something about despair being impossible without hope. I was awoken by a train ... [Read more]
  • Buchanan Mountain to Vernon, NJ
    Day #48  |  New York, New Jersey  |  July 30, 2013
    Currently sitting in St. Thomas' Church Hostel... Well today in New York was more of the same, like the end of yesterday. I woke up as early as the sun would let me, at 4:30 AM. I knew by the time I started walking, I would at least be able to see. I still haven't tried night hiking, and I didn't plan on starting today. I had an easy six or so ... [Read more]
  • Vernon, NJ to Mashipacong Shelter
    Day #49  |  New Jersey  |  July 31, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table... Last night, I was once again drawn in by the allure of TV. I was watching some show that I would never watch at home, something like Law and Order. But it was what was on, and I'll be darned if I wasn't in a recliner with a view. I didn't get to bed until after 11, but I was still awake by 6. I didn ... [Read more]
  • Mashipacong Shelter to Mohican Outdoor Center
    Day #50  |  New Jersey  |  Aug. 1, 2013
    Currently sitting in the MOC common room... Today was about as uneventful as they come, but it was an enjoyable one nonetheless. I waved goodbye to Squints' motionless tent (he got in last night after I got done journaling) and headed on my way. The forecast was for all-day rain, but I didn't really mind the thought. It hasn't rained very much at all the past few weeks, and I am about to ... [Read more]
  • Mohican Outdoor Center to Wind Gap, PA
    Day #51  |  New Jersey, Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 2, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent at The Beer Stein... Well New Jersey went out with a whimper. The cutest puppy whimper you ever heard, though. My hike this morning from Mohican Outdoor Center down to the Delaware River had to be one of the smoothest experiences of the whole trail. There were a few rocks to contend with at first, but after that, the trail was beautifully maintained like a gravel bike path. I got ... [Read more]
  • Wind Gap, PA to George Outerbridge Shelter
    Day #52  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 3, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter... It was really interesting sleeping outside in a town last night. I was lulled to sleep by passing traffic, and a semi served as my alarm clock. It actually worked incredibly well. As I was getting ready, a few drops of rain started to patter my tent. All I could do was laugh. I packed up my tent without any real water accumulation and headed across the street to the ... [Read more]
  • George Outerbridge Shelter to Eckville Shelter
    Day #53  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 4, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter... Before I fell asleep last night, I lay looking at the ceiling of the shelter, listening to music. I looked out and saw some of the last glimmers of golden sun. I suddenly got this sort of deja vu feeling. This was exactly how I imagined the trail would be, before I started. Something about the sounds, the cool air, and the fading light made for my perfect moment. I ... [Read more]
  • Eckville Shelter to a little after Eagles Nest Shelter
    Day #54  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 5, 2013
    Currently laying in my tent... Well there are several "morals of the story" today. You can learn them from me! My hike began with a climb out of the gap on a gravel access road. I suspect a nearby landowner didn't like the trail going so close by, because most of the white blazes had been rubbed off the trees. I started second-guessing myself and doubled back for fifteen minutes, only to find a ... [Read more]
  • A little after Eagles Nest Shelter to Rausch Gap Shelter
    Day #55  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 6, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter... Well there you have it. I made it through my first real 30-mile day! Everything went smoothly to start: easy packup, nice temperature, no rain. Then I started to walk. The tendon or muscle on my right shin was pretty sore, which was weird because it didn't hurt at all yesterday. The other one had done this in the hundred-mile wilderness, so I knew it would be better with ... [Read more]
  • Rausch Gap Shelter to Duncannon, PA
    Day #56  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 7, 2013
    Currently laying in a bed at the Doyle Hotel... Today was a test. That's the only way I can think of it. I got up at 5, which is now before dawn, and got ready like usual. As I walked down the shelter steps to visit the privy, I felt the familiar shock of pain in my right shin from yesterday. I took this as a bad sign but proceeded as usual. I hit ... [Read more]
  • Zero in Duncannon, PA
    Day #57  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 8, 2013
    Currently sitting at the Doyle Hotel's computer... Ohhhhhh yeah. I woke up today, and I had planned it would be a gametime decision whether or not I would hike out of town. After my ambitious last few days (well, first half of the trail, really), I was pretty sure I'd be in Duncannon for another day. I got out of bed onto a stiff shin and hobbled over to the bathroom. I was ... [Read more]
  • Duncannon, PA to Boiling Springs, PA
    Day #58  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 9, 2013
    Currently laying in my tent... Dear readers, I would much rather be curled up getting ready to sleep than doing anything else right now. But here I sit, journaling for you. I thought you should know. Anyways, I'm going to call today one of the good days. I had all my stuff packed last night, so I was able to sleep in until the breakfast place across the street opened. I repeated my order ... [Read more]
  • Backpacker's Campsite to Toms Run Shelter
    Day #59  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 10, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table... Another day of waking up to a stiff shin. I walked to the bathroom and sighed, readying myself for another day of annoying walking. I was a little peeved to begin with, because the campsite had been just a grassy area that resembled all the other ones I had seen that day. Why this one was the official backpacker campsite I will never know. Perhaps they chose it for ... [Read more]
  • Toms Run Shelter to Rocky Mountain Shelters
    Day #60  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 11, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table... Oh what a difference it makes to take shorter days. After my section hiker buddy talked to me for 15 minutes last night as I played possum, I decided to award myself extra time to sleep in. This was made possible because I constrained myself to 19 miles today. Because my injury is no longer affecting my hiking pace, shorter distances give me more time to relax and do ... [Read more]
  • Rocky Mountain Shelters to Waynesboro, PA
    Day #61  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 12, 2013
    Currently laying in a hotel room bed...Today is the day. The beginning of my vacation from hiking. My shin and my mind both know it. I think it's appropriate that this event happened just a little bit after the halfway mark. It'll be good to get refreshed and to attack the trail again with vigor. With a really short day planned, I again woke up late and just took my time getting ... [Read more]
  • Zero in Waynesboro, PA and Washington, DC
    Day #62  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 13, 2013
    Currently laying in a hotel bed...Blogging from a bed with zero miles on the day: there are worse things in the world. The initial plan for the day was to catch a movie in nearby Hagerstown before migrating to Washington, DC for the night. While we milled around the mall waiting for our showtime, however, my mom and I got to talking about my sore shin. Being both an ER nurse and the mother ... [Read more]
  • Zero in Washington, DC
    Day #63  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 14, 2013
    Currently laying in a bed...Today was a good one. We took the Metro and did the normal walk-around-the-Mall touristy things, including taking a while in the Museum of Natural History, which is always a personal favorite. I accidentally stumbled into the geology section, but they had a pretty cool corner about the Appalachian Mountains. So I think it was meant to be! Other than that, I took it easy and enjoyed the extremely low ... [Read more]
  • Zero in Washington, DC and Waynesboro, PA
    Day #64  |  Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 15, 2013
    Currently laying in a hotel bed...No childhood Rooster stories for you tonight; this boy is tired. [Read more]
  • Waynesboro, PA to Pine Knob Shelter
    Day #65  |  Maryland, Pennsylvania  |  Aug. 16, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...The mood this morning was mildly grim; the vacation was coming to a close. I continued to steam-shovel food into my mouth, but the end was nigh. I took one last shower just because I could, and it was back into the hiking clothes for me. I had been masquerading as a civilian for the last few days in clothes from home. Both my mom and I dragged our ... [Read more]
  • Pine Knob Shelter to Harper's Ferry, WV
    Day #66  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 17, 2013
    Currently sitting at the table in Harper's Ferry Hostel...Today was an important day. I left Maryland and ended up at the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harper's Ferry. This is often called the "emotional halfway point" of the trail. It is a ritual for the staff to take your picture in front of the sign and for thru-hikers to officially check in with the ATC.I should back up and ... [Read more]
  • Zero in Harper's Ferry, WV
    Day #67  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 18, 2013
    Currently sitting at the Harper's Ferry Hostel computer...What a difference one day makes. I woke up rested and was still on the fence about staying on the trail. I hopped on the Appalachian Trail online forum, whiteblaze.net, and started researching the phenomenon called "Virginia Blues". Northbound thru-hikers tend to lose their momentum at some point in Virginia as the trail flattens out and the novelty wears off. The condition sounded a lot ... [Read more]
  • Harper's Ferry, WV to Bear's Den Hostel
    Day #68  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 19, 2013
    Currently sitting at the Bear's Den computer...Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I'm thinking it too. The Rooster has gone soft. Three hostel stays in three nights. Not to mention five zero days since Duncannon. It makes me flustered just thinking about it. But hear me out, or whatever I'm supposed to say here. I stayed at the hostel this morning long enough to make myself some pancakes. Mark, our ... [Read more]
  • Bear's Den Hostel to Manassas Gap Shelter
    Day #69  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 20, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...The hostel last night had cable TV, and I noticed that the new episode of Breaking Bad would be airing at 3 AM. I set my alarm and went to sleep a little early. When I woke to that sound, though, I decided it would be in the best interest of my hike if I went back to sleep. I woke to my real alarm and reaped the benefits ... [Read more]
  • Manassas Gap Shelter to Front Royal Hostel
    Day #70  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 21, 2013
    Currently sitting in the hostel's common room...Last night I slept with the light of a full moon beaming down on me. It was amazing to wake up in the middle of the night and be able to see! Not that I did anything with that ability, but it was cool. I woke up for real and got ready after the moon had set. I knew I only had about ten miles in to ... [Read more]
  • Front Royal Hostel to Pass Mountain Hut
    Day #71  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 22, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...Today was a day to see critters. It started almost as soon as I got back to the AT; I saw a black bear's round butt as it scuttled away into the brush. Soon enough, the same scene repeated itself. I had heard that Shenandoah had an active bear population, but I didn't expect the change to be so instantaneous. The bears here are not very big ... [Read more]
  • Pass Mountain Hut to Big Meadows Lodge
    Day #72  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 23, 2013
    Currently sitting in my room...Welp, Shenandoah continues to deliver as of Day 2. I started off early because I was planning to hop along to the next reasonably-spaced shelter, which was almost 27 miles away. Considering I saw 4 bears yesterday and I don't have a ton of experience hanging a bear bag, I have ruled out camping on my lonesome throughout this park. Instead, I'll stick to shelters, which have bear ... [Read more]
  • Big Meadows Lodge to High Mountain Hut
    Day #73  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 24, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...After turning in late last night, I relished the opportunity to sleep in this morning. I knew my hike wouldn't require a full day, so I was in no rush. I was still the second person to breakfast, where I got the Hiker's Special. Har har har. But seriously. I made coffee in my room instead of paying $2.50 for what I'm pretty sure was ... [Read more]
  • Hightop Hut to Blackrock Hut
    Day #74  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 25, 2013
    Brrrr cold front. Isn't August supposed to be warm? I was fully zipped up in my sleeping bag with the liner last night. I woke up and really didn't want to get out. I was so cozy! The prospect of food finally got me moving, and I got out of my sleeping bag to scoop my bag off the bear pole. It really wasn't that cold once I was out and about ... [Read more]
  • Blackrock Hut to Waynesboro, VA
    Day #75  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 26, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent...Excited to get to Waynesboro, I woke up early this morning. Luckily, Michael and I had pored over his big maps and found a stopping point halfway through my day, preventing me from getting fixated on my distant endpoint. The smooth walking allowed me to play some of the mileage games that I made up during my higher-mileage days. One of my favorites was Ten by Ten, where you try ... [Read more]
  • Waynesboro, VA to Maupin Field Shelter
    Day #76  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 27, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent...Very weird to wake up in the valley. There was dew on the grass in the field. Without trees to obscure it, the orange glow of the rising sun illuminated the sky and made life totally visible at 6:30. I got up and packed up my stuff as Pink Leprechaun rustled around on the picnic table nearby. He sent home his tent, so camping out in a field was ... [Read more]
  • Maupin Field Shelter to Seeley-Woodworth Shelter
    Day #77  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 28, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter...Like I said, RAIN. But not as much of it as I expected. My day started with a few pitter-patters on my tent as I was taking it down, and those steadily grew as I climbed up and over Three Ridges Mountain. Afterwards, I dropped steadily into a gap until I came upon Harper's Creek Shelter. I stopped for a break, consuming more food than I had planned and ... [Read more]
  • Seeley-Woodworth Shelter to Lexington, VA
    Day #78  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 29, 2013
    Currently sitting in my room at 502 South Main B&B...;Well today would go in the "not as I planned" category. My plan was to hike 14 miles, hitch in to Buena Vista for a light resupply, get back on the trail by 1:30, and hike the remaining 11. I guess you can keep that in mind as I relate the actual events. I got up early to allow time for my town ... [Read more]
  • Lexington, VA to Matts Creek Shelter
    Day #79  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 30, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...Today started laaaaate. I didn't get out of bed until 8, and breakfast wasn't until 9. I sat at the table and talked to the other guests: a couple from Pittsburgh and a couple from Russia. I explained to them how much I eat, but they didn't know I was hiking yet. They just thought I was a growing boy. I must still look 16. After ... [Read more]
  • Matts Creek Shelter to VA 614
    Day #80  |  Virginia  |  Aug. 31, 2013
    Currently sitting in the hotel room...Solid day for the Rooster. I woke early to give myself options for where my dad could pick me up. We had 13-, 22-, and 26-mile options (spoiler alert, read the start of this post). The people who had camped at the shelter informed me that I talked in my sleep. "I know, I know, I babble when I'm exhausted," I said."No, like full words, clear as ... [Read more]
  • VA 614 to Bobblets Gap Shelter
    Day #81  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 1, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...Today was the first day of my dad's guest appearance on my thru-hike. We were sure to carb up at the hotel's breakfast before packing our packs one last time. I yelled at my dad for his silverware and canned ham, so he got embarrassed and ditched them. We continued our quest for HEET (the fuel for my stove) which we had begun last night. It's ... [Read more]
  • Bobblets Gap Shelter to Fullhardt Knob Shelter
    Day #82  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 2, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...I think I got more sleep last night than I can remember. My dad nodded off around 7:30, and after getting in to camp so early, I had run out of things to do. I followed suit within an hour, and I didn't get out of my sleeping bag until after 7. You can't beat that amount of rest. What disturbs me is that I barely ... [Read more]
  • Fullhardt Knob Shelter to Daleville, VA
    Day #83  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 3, 2013
    Currently sitting in the hotel room...Why did the Rooster cross the road? Because Taco Bell was on the other side of that I-81 overpass, duh. Rewind that a little bit. I slept in, but only slightly less than yesterday. Plenty of time to eat breakfast and hang out around the picnic table before heading out of camp. Lost'n'Found joined us for breakfast before packing up to enjoy her nero in Daleville. We ... [Read more]
  • Daleville, VA to Campbell Shelter
    Day #84  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 4, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...At this rate, Mohican will never get to use his tent. We've been hitting shelters (plus that one town visit), and he is of the mindset that it's stupid to set up your tent when the shelter is open. I too subscribe to this philosophy. Anyways, we hit the Hojo continental breakfast, with me laying waste to it and my dad not too far behind. I was ... [Read more]
  • Campbell Shelter to Four Pines Hostel
    Day #85  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 5, 2013
    Currently sitting on the sofa...I woke up to a crystal clear, sunny and cool morning. The shelter was situated on the side of the climb up to McAfee's Knob, so it got a lot better light than a lot of shelters that are situated in gaps. Nonetheless, I had my sleeping bag hood pulled over my head and didn't wake up until 7. Woops, sorry to my dad, who had been up ... [Read more]
  • Four Pines Hostel to Pickle Branch Shelter
    Day #86  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 6, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...Last night, my dad made plans with Joe, the owner of the hostel, to get a shuttle back to his truck near Buchanan. With our mileage locked in on a short day today, we didn't have much motivation to get going really early. I was surprised to be the first one awake, so I got up to drink chocolate milk and think about breakfast. Joe wasn't lying ... [Read more]
  • Pickle Branch Shelter to Laurel Creek Shelter
    Day #87  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 7, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...Rooster is flying solo again. Well, at least for a couple of days. My dad and I got up, had our coffee and breakfast, and got ready to leave. Brightside and DD headed out before us, planning on a longer day. We hiked the short, even grade down to VA 620. I paused to refill my water and, more importantly, to say goodbye to my dad. His shuttle would ... [Read more]
  • Laurel Creek Shelter to VA 635 parking area
    Day #88  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 8, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table a Pine Swamp Branch Shelter...OK, so I am not technically at my end point for today yet, but I thought it would be more fun to hang out at a shelter than in a parking lot. Thus, I hiked a little past where my mom is going to pick me up and am journaling at the luxurious Pine Swamp Branch Shelter. Actually, this shelter is one of the ... [Read more]
  • VA 635 to Symms Gap Campsite
    Day #89  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 9, 2013
    Currently sitting in the tent...Today was the beginning of another celebrity hike. My mom picked me up off the trail late last night, which of course meant a late-night trip to Wendy's drive-thru. We finally got to bed around 1:30, so I ruled out any kind of early start. I figured the ten miles we would cover could be done in five hours, but I always underestimate the effect that the trail ... [Read more]
  • Symms Gap Campsite to Pearisburg, VA
    Day #90  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 10, 2013
    Currently sitting in the hotel...We survived! Now for the details. Today was bound to be easier than yesterday because 1) we didn't have to climb a ridge and 2) we got started before 1 PM. I don't have much to say about the first part of our hike...we just walked the ridge! Soon, we popped out of the woods and into a field, with plenty of pricker bushes to be had ... [Read more]
  • Pearisburg, VA to Trent's Grocery
    Day #91  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 11, 2013
    Currently sitting at a table in Trent's Grocery...I'm on the loose again! After much anticipation to see how I would handle trail life truly on my lonesome, I was released into the wild today. As usual in a hotel, I had stayed up late watching TV, but this time I got up early because I had an ambitious plan for the day. My mom got up soon after, eager to feed me ... [Read more]
  • Trent's Grocery to Jenkins Shelter
    Day #92  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 12, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...Today was all about the wildlife. Perhaps it was an omen that the area near where I tented contained two horses and one giant pig. I walked up the road from the grocery back to the trail and began my climb up from the road. Right off the bat I saw two deer. That's not unusual, but it set a tone. I soon came across a skunk walking ... [Read more]
  • Jenkins Shelter to Crawfish Trail Campsite
    Day #93  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 13, 2013
    Currently sitting in my tent...Happy three months to me, happy three months to me, happy three months dear ROOOSTER, happy three months to me. That's right, three months ago I stood on top of Katahdin and tried to fathom the task in front of me. I don't know when the remaining mileage started to become reasonable, but it has. I'm camped just a mile or so from the three-quarters mark of ... [Read more]
  • Crawfish Trail Campsite to Trimpi Shelter
    Day #94  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 14, 2013
    Currently sitting in the shelter...The cold front is here! I woke up, and my 15 degree sleeping bag was coming in handy. It was reportedly down in the 40s, so I did everything I could before getting out of my sleeping bag. It all went fairly smoothly, but I still started off hiking with my nanopuff jacket and gloves on. I warmed up as I climbed, so I took off my jacket and gloves ... [Read more]
  • Trimpi Shelter to Thomas Knob Shelter
    Day #95  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 15, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...I feel like I'm in New Hampshire! This shelter is over a mile high. The first part of the day was the typical Virginia green tunnel. I started off in the dark again, wearing my gloves to keep my hands warm and to wipe my snot. I looked at the elevation profile for the day and saw a lot of climbing, but as usual it ended up being ... [Read more]
  • Thomas Knob Shelter to Damascus, VA
    Day #96  |  Virginia  |  Sept. 16, 2013
    Currently sitting at the table outside Hikers Inn...This day has gotta go on record as the first day in which I was excited about getting to a town and I didn't hike miserably for the whole day. My starting point was the high point for the day, 5430' on Thomas Knob. The wind was gusty and there was fog, but it actually wasn't too cold. Nonetheless, I started off all bundled up ... [Read more]
  • Damascus, VA to Double Springs Shelter
    Day #97  |  Virginia, Tennessee  |  Sept. 17, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...The temperature in the bunkroom was perfect, and I got the soundest sleep I've had in a while. I know this because after falling asleep, the next thing I remember is waking up with a start. I just slept right through. After startling myself, I was pretty much awake so I went down to Dairy King to eat breakfast and to finish my blog entry from yesterday. Soon ... [Read more]
  • Double Springs Shelter to Hampton, TN
    Day #98  |  Tennessee  |  Sept. 18, 2013
    Currently sitting in Compucraft Computers/Hiker's Haven Hostel...Pretty standard day. It was a little bit on the cold side last night, so I had trouble getting out of my sleeping bag this morning. I didn't get going until 6:40, but that was nice because then I didn't have to use my headlamp very long. Also, I didn't need to get up super early because today's mileage didn't ... [Read more]
  • Hampton, TN to Mountaineer Shelter
    Day #99  |  Tennessee  |  Sept. 19, 2013
    Currently laying in the shelter...My buddy in the hostel last night ended up being a little interesting. He smoked like a chimney at all hours of the day, then would sleep for a bit, then wake up and eat eggs and read a blog about boating on the computer. This made me kind of wish I had chosen the other hostel in town, but I still got a good night's rest. I ended ... [Read more]
  • Mountaineer Shelter to Roan High Knob Shelter
    Day #100  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 20, 2013
    Currently sitting on the table...Day 100! I think I've officially been at this for a long time. Am I a thru-hiker yet? I thought about this today. I'll be a southbounder (sobo) until I reach Springer Mountain, at which point I will officially become MEGA Rooster (Maine-Georgia). That's as far as I've thought on that subject. I got to bed early last night and woke throughout my slumber to find ... [Read more]
  • Roan High Knob Shelter to Erwin, TN
    Day #101  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 21, 2013
    Currently sitting at the Uncle Johnny's Hostel computer...The rain had to come at some point. This morning, I told Pamola that he had been good to me up to this point and that he could bring on his worst. I don't think it really was his worst, but it was a comparatively dreary day. I got going early from the Knob, taking a side trail to a parking area with restrooms and ... [Read more]
  • Erwin, TN to Bald Mountain Shelter
    Day #102  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 22, 2013
    I started today by bidding adieu to the two section hikers at Uncle Johnny's, T-Rex and Dad. After that, it was time to head back up to the trailhead at 395. It was downhill all the way into town, making me think maybe I could have done it last night. But that would have been about 35 miles on the day, so maybe not. I picked up my resupply and put it in my ... [Read more]
  • Bald Mountain Shelter to Little Laurel Shelter
    Day #103  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 23, 2013
    Currently laying in the shelter...The motivation of being close to town will do a lot to you. Take, for instance, my mileage today. I am not a 30-mile-a-day guy, but when it means I have a shorter walk into town in the morning, ah yes, I will put in a few more miles at the end of the day. To secure my chances of doing so, I got up early to one of those ... [Read more]
  • Little Laurel Shelter to Hot Springs, NC
    Day #104  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 24, 2013
    Currently sitting in the Hot Springs library...After yesterday's brutal mileage, I thought I had earned an extra hour of sleep. Believe it or not, I find it harder to sleep after a tough day than after an easy one. It's like I'm so exhausted that I can't sleep. Eventually, sleep did come, and I was awakened by my alarm in the moonlit pre-dawn. Soon, Danko and the two section hikers ... [Read more]
  • Zero in Hot Springs, NC
    Day #105  |  North Carolina  |  Sept. 25, 2013
    Currently sitting in Elmer's Sunnybank Hostel...Feeling sort of run-down after the last stretch of trail, I let myself sleep in this morning. I heard the drizzling rain outside already, and my mind wandered to the forecast for all-day rain. On the day I'm supposed to go across Max Patch, the first spot I ever walked on the trail in my whole life? Nope, I decided I was taking a zero. Danko felt ... [Read more]
  • Hot Springs, NC to Standing Bear Hostel
    Day #106  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 26, 2013
    Currently sitting in a bunk at Standing Bear...This was a full day. Danko and I left independently from Elmer's around 7, but I stopped at the first shelter for some privy action. He was confused how I ended up behind him when I caught him on a break. We had done a 1000-foot climb out of Hot Springs, and now we had a 2000-foot climb to the top of Bluff Mountain. I let ... [Read more]
  • Standing Bear Hostel to Peck's Corner Shelter
    Day #107  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 27, 2013
    Currently laying in the shelter...Well, the Smokies seem to be my last real test. They tested me today, alright. Danko and I enjoyed a nice, late start after the marathon day yesterday. Danko had to get his permit for the Smokies still, so we waited until Curtis, the owner of Standing Bear, showed up. With all our ducks in a row, we made the remaining descent into Davenport Gap. We crossed under I-40, just ... [Read more]
  • Peck's Corner Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter
    Day #108  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 28, 2013
    Currently laying in the loft...The Smokies continue to test me. After a late start due to yesterday's late end (do you see how this sort of behavior propagates?), I used the privy and set off. I realized pretty early on that I had left my elevation profile for the day back at the shelter somewhere. I would be flying blind! It wasn't really a big deal; there are directional signs throughout the ... [Read more]
  • Derrick Knob Shelter to Fontana Village, NC
    Day #109  |  North Carolina, Tennessee  |  Sept. 29, 2013
    Currently sitting at the Fontana Lodge computer...This was a little bit of a bittersweet day. On the one hand, we headed out of the Smokies and, in doing so, completed the last major challenge of the trail. On the other hand, there are no more big challenges so now we're just...hiking. And the Smokies were really beautiful, which more than made up for having to buy a permit to hike there. I ... [Read more]
  • Fontana Village, NC to Nantahala Outdoor Center
    Day #110  |  North Carolina  |  Sept. 30, 2013
    Currently sitting in the common area's kitchen...Late start today! I decided that I didn't really care how far I got today and that I would join Mercury and Danko for a farewell breakfast. Those two have plans to finish on the 9th, which will put their average pace at a leisurely 16.5 miles per day. I'm not tied to a date yet, so I'm going to let my antsy ... [Read more]
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center to Siler Bald Shelter
    Day #111  |  North Carolina  |  Oct. 1, 2013
    Currently sitting at the picnic table...After arriving at the NOC so late last night, I permitted myself time to sleep in. I didn't even wake up once until 7, and even then I went back to sleep. There was no point in getting an early start; nothing around there opened until 9 AM. I thought I might be able to do laundry early, but the only detergent available was from the outfitter and ... [Read more]
  • Siler Bald Shelter to Standing Indian Shelter
    Day #112  |  North Carolina  |  Oct. 2, 2013
    Currently laying in the shelter...Pretty much your standard trail day. I was on the road by 7 and headed downhill for about four miles. I climbed up and over some unnamed mountain, but what struck me was how well-graded the climb was. It wasn't even a challenge. The rest of the day proved to be the same way, with really gradual climbs and descents that made for easy cruising. My morning snack was ... [Read more]
  • Standing Indian Shelter to Hiawassee, GA
    Day #113  |  North Carolina, Georgia  |  Oct. 3, 2013
    Currently laying in my bed at Hiawassee Budget Inn...With today being my very last town day on the trail, I got all excited and was hiking by 6. I quickly decided that this would also be my last day of hiking before sunrise. It finally sunk in that hiking in the dark is no fun. Slow going, no scenery, no sun to buoy my spirits...forget it. It made sense today because every minute ... [Read more]
  • Hiawassee, GA to Wildcat Mountain
    Day #114  |  Georgia  |  Oct. 4, 2013
    Currently laying in my tent...My brain was up and humming early this morning, preventing me from sleeping in at all. I took this as a sign that today should be productive. I heated up the variety of microwavable breakfast foods that I had picked up at the grocery store yesterday. Not bad, I concluded. Kinda wish I had figured out this whole microwave scene sooner! I walked to the edge of town and stuck ... [Read more]
  • Wildcat Mountain to Gooch Mountain Shelter
    Day #115  |  Georgia  |  Oct. 5, 2013
    My last full day on the trail. I couldn't have asked for a better one. I slept in as late as I could, then took my sweet time getting ready so that I'd be hiking in the daylight. I hiked over some bumps and down to Neel Gap, home of Mountain Crossings. At this point, only thirty miles in, about 15 percent of northbounders ditch out on their thru-hike attempt. That number never ... [Read more]
  • Gooch Mountain Shelter to Springer Mountain
    Day #116  |  South Carolina, Georgia  |  Oct. 6, 2013
    Currently sitting in my cousin's apartment in the South Carolina upcountry...Me and the plaque Like a kid on Christmas morning, I couldn't sleep once I initially woke up. I lay in my sleeping bag until I deemed it appropriate to start moving. I grabbed my food bag from the bear cables, took my pack from the peg on which it was hanging, and got ready as the sun began to cast its ... [Read more]