Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014 - Gatlinburg, TN

We are at mile 206.8, taking a zero day in Gatlinburg, TN at the Grand Prix motel.

The past four days in the Smoky Mountains have been simultaneously some of the hardest and best days so far.

In Fontana, we ended up sharing a Fontana Resort Lodge room with our friends Harry and Misty before crossing the amazing Fontana Dam and climbing some 3000 feet up into the first shelter. This day was quite warm and sunny and all the climbing made us feel it. We climbed a super rickety old fire tower had great views of Fontana lake but was terrifying as it swayed in the wind. The wind was blowing extremely hard that night but the shelter design helped out greatly.

The shelters in the smokies are all stone, old stables. Large tarps have been placed over the front in an attempt to protect from the elements. There are fireplaces inside which we have found very helpful. The sleeping areas are a double decker of platforms along the back wall that sleep about 16 people. It is mandatory that thru hikers sleep in the shelters in the smokies unless they are full. We have been keeping up with our same group of friends and the shelters have been packed, but we fit.

The next two days in the smokies were wet. The first mostly damp but the second was pouring and a tough day mentally.

The rain unexpectedly turned to snow that night which was bone chilling in my crummy sleeping bag but luckily another hiker gave me a 15 degree bag that was abandoned on the trail (and soaking wet). we woke up to a wopping amount of snow! Up to knee height in some places! The sun came out by around 10am and we hiked the hardest (in my opinion) 10 miles yet to Newfound Gap. On this hike we reached the highest point on the AT, Clingman's Dome, which offered amazing clouds, winds, and quick openings in the sky for views. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this day but Greta does so I will post them later. We finished the day in good spirits after our friend Fresh saved me from trail bonking and falling asleep in a snow drift with food bars. Thanks Fresh!!!!

When we arrived at Newfound Gap we ran into Mr. Jimmy who has been supporting his wife, I Believe, as she hiked the AT and providing trail magic to other hikers along the way. He gave us soda and a ride to our motel which is very nice. Shuttles here are pricy. At the motel, other trail angels, Beth and her husband from FL, served a delicious all you can eat meal for thru hikers. We ate like kings... soup, salad, fritos, avacados! Mr. Jimmy took us to get resupply food that night. His generosity has no bounds. So far our time in Gatlinburg has been great. Today we will exploit this tourest mecca for some cheap thrills and vegan pizza before hitting the trail again tomorrow.

-Chris aka Junco

P.S.: Greta says, "hi."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, 2014 - Fontana Village, NC

Greta and I are at mile 164.7 after a little over two weeks on the trail. Taking a break here today to resupply food and do laundry. Tonight we are staying at the fontana "hilton" shelter, one of the fancier or fanciest shelters in the south (i.e. has real bathrooms and showers).

Yesterday we had our first real snow on the trail. The weather has typically been a pleasant high of fifty or higher during the day and near freezing at night. But yesterday we got near 4 inches of snow overnight and throughtout the day. Today is a warm 55ish and sunny.

Tomorrow we enter the Smokie Mountains!

Oh and we reached 30 bird species on our list (elsewhere on this blog), including a bunch of lifers! Been hearing Barred Owls almost everyday!

Pictures from the last few days attached.

Happy to be here and feeling good,
Chris aka Junco



Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2013

Frosty morning today. Been hiking the last few days with our friends Strech, Fresh, Misty, Dirty Harry, Reroute, and Blue Jay. Blue Jay is a volunteer and veteran hiker in the Smokies and gave us some tips and shute contact info. We have about 5 more days or so till our next rest day in Gatlingburg, TN.

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21, 2014 - Franklin, NC

We spent another series of terrific days in the woods and are tonight staying at Haven's Budget Inn with our friends Fran and Harry. Many other hikers are here. The guy who runs this place (and maybe the entire county?) shuttled us around and played guitar and fiddle for us for like an hour. Went to the local bar cafe for foosball and New England brews. Also nice japanese restaurant, used book store, and health food store.  Cool little town. Good for hikers.  We are about mile 110 of the hike. Will be back on tomorrow morning. Next town stop will be Fontana Village, NC in about 50 miles. Then we enter the much anticipated and feared great smoky mountains for 7ish days.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17th - Zero Day Lounging

Lounging at the holiday inn express in Hiawassi, GA. Our buddy Aaron is hooking us up. His dad got him the room for his bday.  This is a well deserved break after a week of hiking and a hectic hostel stay last night. Taking the day off and looking forward to Chinese food, beer, and a hot tub later today! Will be back on the trail tomorrow.  We are at mile 69.6 and plan to hike the last 9 miles of GA tomorrow and enter NC. Sun is supposed to be back tomorrow. Spirits are high, life is good. YOLO.

-Chris aka Junco

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16; 2014

We overnighted at Tray Mtn Shelter. Covered about 28 miles in the past two days. I'm doing well though my hiking buddies are getting plagued by foot or knee issues. Greta is determined despite some blisters. Sad to hear our friend Arrow ended his hike yesterday due to knee problems. He will be missed. Best of luck to him. Its raining now and will all day. Plan to hike 10mi and then ride into Hiawassi. Gotta get out of our tent soon..

Oh and I took on the trail name "Junco". A dark eyed junco was the first bird we saw on the trail, on top of Springer. There are many around.

-Chris

Friday, March 14, 2014

AT Bird List

All seen and/or heard from trail unless otherwise noted....

1. Turkey Vulture

2. Dark eyed Junco

3. Carolina Chickadee

4. White Breasted Nuthatch

5. Bicknell's Thrush

6. American Crow

7. Barred Owl

8. American Robin

9. Hairy Woodpecker

10. Downey Woodpecker

11. Mourning Dove

12. Carolina Wren

13. Northern Cardinal

14. Song Sparrow

15. Pileated Woodpecker

16. Eastern Bluebird

17. Eastern Towhee

18. Northern Mockingbird

19. Common Grackle

20. Bluejay

21. Canadian Goose

22. Tufted Titmouse

23. Golden-Crowned Kinglet

24. Common Raven

25. House Finch

26. House Sparrow

27. Brown Creeper

28. Mallard

29. Bank Swallow

30. Hermit Thrush

31. Northern Flicker

32. Red Breasted Nuthatch

33. Wild Turkey

34. Rock Dove

35. European Starling

36. Eastern Phoebe

37. Blue-headed Vireo

38. Black-throated Green Warbler

39. Ruffed Grouse

40. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

41. Red-bellied Woodpecker

42. Tree Swallow

43. Red-winged Blackbird

44. Great Blue Heron

45. Red-tailed Hawk

46. Black-throated Blue Warbler

47. Blue-winged Warbler

48. Black-and-white Warbler

49. Golden-winged, Blue-winged warbler hybrid

50. Broad-winged Hawk

51. Yellow-throated Warbler

52. Ovenbird

53. Yellow-throated Vireo

54. American Goldfinch

55. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

56. Gray Catbird

57. Eastern Whip-poor-will

58. American Redstart

59. Brown Thrasher

60. Cliff Swallow

61. Barn Swallow

62. Chipping Sparrow

63. Black Vulture

64. Bald Eagle (*over I-81 near Atkins, VA)

65. Scarlet Tanager

66. Hooded Warbler

67. Rose-breasted Grosbeak

68. Indigo Bunting

69. Chestnut-sided Warbler

70. Chimney Swift

71. Eastern Wood-Peewee

72. Veery

73. Brown-headed Cowbird

74. Osprey

75. Eastern Screech Owl

76. Mute Swan

77. Domestic Goose

78. Canadian x Domestic Goose Hybrid

79. Domestic Mallard Varients

80. House Wren

81. Great Egret

82. Peregrine Falcon

83. Worm-eating Warbler

84. Cedar Waxwing

85. Common Yellowthroat

86. Prairie Warbler

87. Red-eyed Vireo

88. Louisiana Waterthrush

89. Eastern Kingbird

90. Black-capped Chickadee

91. Baltimore Oriole

92. Wood Thrush

93. Warbling Vireo

94. Fish Crow

95. Swainson's Thrush

96. Canada Warbler

97. Ruby-crowned Kinglet

98. Boreal Chickadee

99. Yellow-rumped Warbler

100. White-throated Sparrow

101. Black-backed Woodpecker

102. Yellow-throated Vireo

103. Pine Warbler

104. Winter Wren

105. Spruce Grouse

106. Common Nighthawk

107. Belted Kingfisher

108. Gray Jay

109. Common Loon

110. Blackburnian Warbler

March 13, 2014

We are about to go to sleep on our fourth day on the trail at mile 31.7. Our second and third days went well. Our second day was hot. Last night we pitched our tent near Jarreds Gap and had received ridiculous winds and hail. I was shivering in my bag with most of my clothes on. This mornjng we summited a Bllod Mountain. At over 5000ft, I think its the highest I've ever climbed. There we had good views, a frozen hands privy experience, and a struggle to make oatmeal. Greta is feeling mostly better too!

Tonight we are sleeping in a cozy bed because we are staying in the amazing Squirrel Cabin at Blood Mountain Cabins next to Neels Gap, Georgia. Our friends Aaron and Arrow are staying with us. The whole cabin was only $60! Cheap and totally worth it. I want a tiny house like this. We ate good speghetti too!  Im contemplating adopting the trail name Bottomless Pit, at Arrow's suggestion, due to my eating habits in contrast to my slender stature.

Tommorrow we will try to pick up our pace a bit and the four of us intend to stay at a shelter about 12mi away.

-Chris

First Day.

Tuesday march 11. 9:30am.

Greta and I had a great and tough first day. After a 11 hour overnight greyhound ride to atlanta with basically no sleep, we had breakfast at a place we like a lot before getting picked up by our shuttler, Survivor Dave.

We began our hike at the Springer Mt parking lot and had to hike south to the summit one mile before turning north. The mountains here are beautiful and the woods are a really nice brown. Yesterday was very warm with not a trace of snow and today promises the same. We hiked thru magnificent magnolia patches and lots of little streams.

Spend the night tenting at Hawk Mt shelter along with like 50 other tents! Had fun throwing the bear bag! I got a decent first nights sleep. Greta is unfortunately feeling sick (snotty and nausea). That's ok though because we didnt want to push it the first week.

We are going to keep a AT bird list which will be a separate post of this blog we will update as we identify new bird species. Yesterday I got a great view of my first Bicknell's thrush!

Dont have internet at time of writing so I will post when I do....
-chris

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Before" Picture

In our driveway. Bye Boston!

Leaving for AT today.

Our going away "spite cake". Thanks roommates.
Hi everyone!

We created this blog to keep our friends updated on our progress and to keep track of our adventures on the AT this year. We'll be hiking over the next six months with the plan to finish at Mt Katahdin in Maine in late August. We'll update this blog occasionally so please subscribe to stay in touch. We will have a smart phone and will check email/calls every few days but in general will have our phone off. If you are interested in mailing us anything along the way, that would be great :). Just let us know where to pick it up :).

Thanks to everyone who came to our going away party last night. It was a ton of fun! It feels great to have so many awesome friends!

Today our friend Katie is driving us to Virginia from Boston. We'll spend a night at Greta's parents house before taking a bus the next night to Atlanta. From there Survivor Dave ( http://www.atsurvivordave.com ) is taking us to the trailhead to start the AT at Springer Mountain in Georgia.

I hope everyone has a great spring and summer. Hopefully we do too and I'll see you in the fall or along the trail sometime.

Keep the rubber side down,
Chris