Quick update

Hey everyone,

I’m sitting at Watauga Lake right now just outside of Hampton, Tennessee. Wifi has been difficult of late, but I have a bunch of posts prepped for Damascus, VA where I should be in three days time.

We arrived at the lake here two days ago to find trail magic: burgers and dogs, beer and pop, and all the snacks we could eat.

With full bellies, we laid around swimming the day away then hiked .4 miles back up the mountain to a campsite.

Yesterday, we zeroed at the lake taking time waiting on Dr. Kool-aid who is spending a few days with his sister.

Last night, we cowboy camped at the lake stuffing our food in one of the bear-proof trash containers that one of the girls cleaned out.

Now, it’s 2pm and and we’re getting set to make a few miles before dark. We have to go at least 9 due to the Watauga Lake shelter being closed because of a problem bear. He’s smart and likes robbing hikers.

In 40 some miles we cross the Virginia border! Three states down… eleven to go! See y’all in Damascus in a few days. Happy trails!

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Day 22: Double Spring Gap Shelter to Iceboater Spring Shelter

Day #22

Double Spring Gap Shelter –> Icewater Spring Shelter

13.4 miles

210.1 Total AT miles

A quick update while I hike from Erwin to Hampton. In six more days, I’ll hopefully have a solid wifi connection to upload some posts. The wifi here at Uncle Johnnies is almost unusable.

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Mountain Goat and My Shadow doing their morning workout. Sit-ups, pushups, and planks. Thought hiking would be enough??! Never!
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A beautiful privy in the Smokey mountains. They are actually handicap accessible. Usually. This one just need a ramp but it has the rails.
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A group gathers around Dr. Kool-Aid inquiring about our thru-hike.
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Dr. Kool-Aid answering questions for the circle of day hikers. What do you eat? Where do you sleep? Why?!? How?!?
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Golden boy dipping a loli pop into a tub of grape jelly. Only on the AT!
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If you  have to ask you may not want to know! An aluminum shovel, a hole, and toilet paper…
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A note from Cool Dad. They are  hiking much faster than us. We like to lay around and lounge in the sun and just hang out. We are out here living. Last one to Katahdin wins!
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Crossing a split-log bridge. Imagine this in bad weather.
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There are SOO many uprooted trees here in the Smokies. Hopefully, we don’t get caught in this kind of storm.
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Passage over a barbed wire fence.
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Whooo!!! We’ve been walking the border of Tennessee and North Carolina for a while. Feels good to see the proof though!
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Adventure Girl stopped us as we walked up the trail for some trail magic. Oranges, water, cucumber, and $20! Thanks Adventure Girl!
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Mountain Goat modeling one of the mandarins.

Day 21: Derrick Knob Shelter to Double Spring Gap Shelter

Day #21

Derrick Knob Shelter –> Double Spring Gap Shelter

7.4 Miles

196.7 Total AT Miles

Kodak here signing in from Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin, Tn on my 30-something day on the trail. The blog has fallen a little behind due to lack of internet access in the forest. Go figure! The internet in towns has not been so good and time is really short with chores and socialization and all. Sorry.

I’ve resumed journaling nightly so my posts should improve once I get caught up. I bought a journal in Hot Springs after sending mine home. Horrible decision. I need to write to keep my head in order and so many things happen out here it is difficult to remember it and keep things straight.

Anyway, last night I took a day off from taking pictures allowing myself only one. The photo I took was of Mountain Goat and myself sitting around a fire under a bridge here in Erwin. We nero’d into town and spent a night camped at the hostel. Funds are super low, and we wanted a zero, so Mountain Goat and myself walked across the bridge and cowboy camped beside the river.

A church men’s group drove us into town for a walmart run where we bought broccoli, cauliflower, corn on the cob, and a rotisserie chicken. We bought butter and tin foil and cooked the veg in the fire.

Just as we prepared to toss the food in the fire, a man and his two sons walked up with a 2ft rainbow trout that swallowed a hook and wasn’t going to make it. “Want it?” He asked. “We have a freezer full.”

“Heck yeah!” I said. I taught Mountain Goat how to clean the fish. We stuffed the chest cavity with wild onion and a quarter pound of butter then wrapped it in foil. After eight minutes on each side, the fish was cooked to perfection; meat flaking; juicy, and tender; entire skeleton peeling from the uneaten side.

We feasted then cooked some pineapple in the fire for desert. We topped it with chocolatey yogurt and sweet cracker crumbles. “This is better than the desert at Iron Horse!” Mountain Goat declared. Another special night on the Appalachian Trail.

Anyway, here are photos from my 21st day on the trail. Sorry for the lack of story to follow it. See ya’ll soon!

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Mountain Goat, My Shadow, and Mama Finch – there on the end – absorbing the warmth of their bags for as long as they can.
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My Shadow and Mountain Goat enjoying s’mores for breakfast. Only on the Appalachian Trail…
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Me, Kodak, warming my hands on my stove as I cook my breakfast. Photo Cred: Mountain Goat. Thanks!
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inside of the Double Spring Gap Shelter
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A broken trekking pole serves as a fire poker. It’s coffee time!
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Lounging on a break alongside the trail.
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The Appalachian trail prior to becoming “the green tunnel.” Soon enough…
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Some moss on a fallen tree.
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Golden boy taking it easy at lunchtime. Soaking in those rays after a cold morning.
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Dr. Kool-Aid and My shadow getting some music going.
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Hiking on.
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Mountain Goat posing for a photo in a mossy patch of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
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Mountain Goat cooking dinner: grits and “hot Chockey (sp?)”
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Trail magic oreos! Thanks dude!
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The tower at Clingmans Dome, the highest point of the Appalachian trail. It’s all down hill from here!
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Me enjoying my mac n’ cheese dinner atop Clingmans Dome.
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Dr. Kool-Aid and myself.
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We left our belongings set-up at the shelter and hiked to the top of Clingmans Dome for sunset. Such a good decision.
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The mountains opposite the sun.
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Dr. Kool-Aid answering questions for the circle of day hikers. What do you eat? Where do you sleep? Why?!? How?!?
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Our group at sunset.

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Time to head back to the shelter for the night.

Day 20:

Day #20

Russell Field Shelter –> Derrick Knob Shelter

8.9 miles

189.3 Total AT miles

We had a rough night. Someone fell asleep with music on. I woke to it at 3am. Unable to fall asleep with the ruckus, I braved the cold the shook the mans tent till he woke. “Please turn off your music.” He didn’t, only turned it down a bit.

A few minutes later, Mr. Kool-Aid snapped, “TURN OFF THE F*CKING MUSIC!”

“I need it to cover up the snoring.”

“No-one is snoring, but your music is keeping everyone awake!” Says Mr. Kool-Aid. “Please, turn it off.”

“Since you put it like that, ok.”

We hiked on through a bit of fog and a slight bit of rain. Just enough to wet the trails but not ourselves. Sometime after noon, the clouds cleared and the sun pierced the sky just in time for us to find a bald.

We laid in the sun on top of the mountain soaking in the golden warmth for hours. It is one of my favorite moments; carefree relaxation with no-where to be and nothing to do but chill with new friends.

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Morning through the door of my tent.
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Mr. Kool-Aid getting ready to pack up.
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The Derrick Knob Shelter through the mornings fog.
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My Tarptent Moment.
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Rhododendron leaves in the fog.
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Inside one of the Smokey Mountain Shelters on a lunch break.
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Mr. Kool-Aid’s kool-aid pin.
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Walking in the mud.
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My shoes on the muddy trails.
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The Appalachian Trail winds through grassy patches in the fog.
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Grass! I so wish I could camp here. Best mattress ever!
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Just a little mud on my shoes and pants.
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Three tarps keep the wind from this shelter.
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We stopped at the shelter for a late lunch and found these bags hanging from the bear cables with no-one around. Creepy.
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Stairs.

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We will lay on that bare spot on the mountain for hours basking in the sun like reptiles.
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Hiking on.

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The view from Rocky Top.
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Taking in the view.
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Whats up Golden Boy!
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I took off my shoes and this earthworm crawled across my foot. Tickles!
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My Shadow laying on Finch and loving every moment.
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Me on the bald.
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Orion, My Shadow, and Mountain Goat taking it easy.
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Drying my tent while we sunbathe.
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LadyBird writing in her journal.
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My hat keeps the sun off my face.
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My Shadow!
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Mr. Kool-Aid having a moment.
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Mountain Goats goat tattoos on her feet.
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Mountain Goat showing off her bracelet to My Shadow. It has a sweet troll bead with green eyes.

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The shelters here in the Smokeys all have fireplaces in side. Talk about cozy!
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Camping at Derrick Knob Shelter.
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The Derrick Knob Shelter.
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This pocket Rocket rip off exploded flames burning the ground and melting the supports. Crazy!

 

Day 19:

Day #19

Fontana Hilton Shelter –> Russell Field Shelter

14.5 miles

180.4 Total AT miles

We managed to tear ourselves away from the comforts of the Hilton and hit the trail after another shower. I can’t say enough how much I enjoy a hot shower. I just can’t take enough of them.

Mr. Kool-Aid is a bit slow in the morning (understatement! Sorry dude 🙂 so Cool Dad, Savage, and Canuck hit the trail before us with the intentions of meeting up at the Russell Field Shelter. It did not happen.

Mr. Kool-Aid and I take our time and enjoy every single second we can. We stood and watched a family of deer with one of the yearlings walking within a few feet of us. We climbed a fire-tower and made coffee at it’s base with a group of girls we met in town. It felt a bit like running a Starbucks with Mr. Kool-Aid boiling water while I ran the drip. Ahh, nothing like fresh coffee to bring people together.

We hiked with the girls then pushed past the shelter they stayed at to meet up with our friends but didn’t find them there. They kept going past the planned stop and it was way too late for us to catch up. Oh well.

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No Noro! has become our saying. It is so common the news was in town running a story on it. Wish us luck…

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Mountain Goat, My Shadow, and Finch atop a fire tower.
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Flower buds poking through the structure of the tower.
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Group coffee time!
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Mountain Goat writing down her email address.
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Mr. Kool-Aid working out a knot in his back. Painful.

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Day 18: Nero and a Chess Board at the Hilton

Day #18

Fontana Lodge –> Fontana Hilton Shelter

1.2 miles

165.9 total AT miles

The Fontana Hilton Shelter earns it’s name for the restrooms with running water complete with hot showers. It has a solar charging station to charge small electronics, a large fire area located above the lake, and, thanks to Canuck and me, a chess board on the floor of the shelter.

We left the Fontana lodge late in the day after a harty breakfast and a few more showers. A shuttle drove us to the trailhead where we hiked around the lake for just over a mile before deciding to call it quits for the day.

With the Smokey Mountains ahead, we did not want to rush off late in the day to a campsite we may not be able to sleep at. In the Smokies, we can only sleep in shelter areas and the first one is further than we wished to walk so late in the day. And it’s not like we are in a hurry. If we were, we’d have just driven to Maine!

Canuck and I enjoy chess so we decided to make a board on the floor of the shelter. With charcoal from the fire, we etched and shaded a board. We used flowers for our kings; large rocks for the queens, gravel for pawns, skinny sticks for bishops, nuts for knights, and shells for rooks.

The game got off to a confusing start and I gave up my queen in the first few moves mistaking one of our pieces. Canuck made the same mistake a few moves later, going down a queen as well. We caught on after that though and had an incredible time with our makeshift board. Good times!

We camped behind the shelter and laughed the night away before crawling into our nylon homes. In the morning we head into the Smokies.

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A breakfast burrito at the Fontana Lodge. Thanks for treating Bambi!
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Ah, the bathroom of the hotel at Fontana Dam. I took three or four showers before leaving this place.
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An algae-full pool at Fontana Lodge. It’s the wrong season for a swim.
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A bobcat mount in the lodge.
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The main area of Fontana Lodge.
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Golden Boy at Fontana before hitting the trail.
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Flowers in bloom.
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A shuttle transported us back to the trailhead. There is duct tape on the shifter…
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Exiting the shuttle and preparing to hike on!
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Fontana Crossing
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Press “0” on the telephone to order a shuttle for $3 to the lodge. How easy is that?
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Hiking around Fontana Lake.
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We came to the shelter, the “fontana hilton named for the showers and restrooms with running water available here.
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Mr. Kool-Aid charging his phone on the solar charger at Fontana Hilton Shelter
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The charging ports.
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Canuck in his hammock. He’s happier than he looks!
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Cannuck beside his hammock.
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Savage got a new, larger tent. It’s big enough for two!
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Canuck and I made a chess board on the floor of the shelter. Gravel for pawns, flowers for kings, big rocks for queens, sticks for rooks, shells for bishops, and different shells for rooks.
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What a game.
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Savage making smores.
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The view of the lake beside the fire pit.
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Cool Dad taking in the view.

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The Fontana hilton from the lake side.
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Camping behind the Hilton.
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We are always laughing out here. Living the greatest moment of our lives over and over again.
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I stiched a pin onto my hat. It came with nails intending to be used on a hiking stick.
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Mr. Kool-Aid dancing.
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A spider in the bathroom.