Just Another Statistic…

I want to apologize to everyone who was following along.  My hike is officially over.

I made it to Clingman’s Dome and the weather was awful.  I decided to come home for a few days to wait out the weather (and watch The Masters).

While I was home, I had a candid discussion with my wife about the current state of affairs after a month on the trail.  To my surprise, she was still very supportive of me trying to finish the hike.

However, she did tell me that the stress was growing and my daughter was getting increasingly upset with my absence.

After talking about it for a few hours, we decided it would be best for our family for me to table the hike and come back home.  My daughter was particularly excited upon hearing this news.

I already miss the trail.  I was having a great time and starting to get in the groove of walking every day.  Fortunately, I was out there long enough to have spent some quality time with myself.  Most of the time, all I could think about was not being able to get this part of my daughter’s childhood back.

I realized what is most important to me while I was out there.  It wasn’t finishing the trail, although that was up there.  It was becoming a better father and husband.  I’ve spent the majority of my adult life being pretty selfish.  The trail, although I had spousal support, was another example.  It was MY dream.  It wasn’t my daughter’s dream; it wasn’t my wife’s dream.  It was mine.

I still plan to hike the trail.  However, it looks as though it’ll have to wait until retirement.  My daughter isn’t getting any younger and she needs me at home more than I need to be on the trail.

I’ve enjoyed keeping this blog going and have delayed disclosure of this information as long as possible because I honestly feel like I’m letting you guys down.  I sincerely apologize to those who have been following along; but, this is the right choice for my family and I at this time.

I’ll be keeping the blog going, I think.  It obviously won’t be about the Appalachian Trail, much longer. But, I usually lead a fairly interesting life so why not take some folks along.

As it stands, my wife and I have decided to tour the country looking for a city to call home.  Starting tomorrow morning, we’ll begin a 6,000+ mile tour of the U.S., visiting cities we feel have promise.  Our plan is to check out a dozen cities, or so, that we have pre-screened in our own way.  Upon completion of the trek, we’re hoping to find a place to finally set roots and have a functioning family.

I’d like to apologize once more for throwing in the towel.  They say people hike the trail to find themselves.  I feel I’ve done the same thing, albeit in a different manner.  I’m not entirely thrilled about giving up this opportunity to hike the trail; however, I’m glad to finally be with my family.  I’m excited about our future together.  I’m excited to finally be a part of my daughter’s life.  I’m excited to finally feel like I’m genuinely trying to be a better husband and father.

Hike your own hike.

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Lambie

                  

Day 25, April 4th

I was up this morning once I started hearing birds chirping outside of the hotel room.  So much for alarm clocks.

I went up to the lodge to get breakfast and grab my package.  I checked on the shuttle schedule and then headed back down the hill to my room.  Along with my sleeping pad, I had my wife throw in a bunch of food for a resupply.  Flat rate shipping, and all.

When I got back to the room, I laid out all the groceries, threw in what I still had left in my food bag, and started sorting stuff into each day of the smokies.  I wanted to try to get through in five days.  I figured I’d go ahead and carry six days of food, just in case.

I got everything packed up, changed back into my hiking clothes, and headed up the hill to catch the shuttle.  Shortly after checking out, the shuttle arrived and I was on my way back to the trail.  The climb out of Fontana was supposed to be terrible.  We’d met a ridge runner down in Georgia and his wife specifically mentioned Shuckstack as being her least favorite climb on the entire trail.  It’s not that it’s really steep, hard to hike, or anything like that; rather, most everyone who makes the climb has just refilled all of their food, fuel, and water.

With my pack seeming heavier than it had in weeks, I started the six mile climb to the fire tower. Fortunately, the first two and a half miles were relatively flat.  I still had to pass the “Fontana Hilton,” as it’s known.  This is a shelter right on the lake with running water and showers.  Many hikers elect to stay here on their way through.  I may have, except USPS.

   

 

Next was about a mile walk from the Hilton down the the visitor center and the dam.  It was nice to get to log some time on the trail while also being on a flat paved surface.  

   

 

This was the same dam I’d seen during the last several days of hiking.  The trail actually goes across the top of the dam.  I’ve heard several people with a fear of heights have actually quit at this point.

   

     

On the other side of the dam was a sign welcoming everyone to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

That look is because I can see the fire tower from here and know what getting there entails…

From this grassy little area, I could actually see the fire tower atop Shuckstack Mountain.  It was WAY up there and forever away, as well.  Should be fun.

My phone can’t zoom in any more than this…

I decided, since there was a picnic area just beyond the sign, to stop and have a quick lunch (read: lighten my pack, a little).  After a few SPAM and tuna salad tortillas, I was hiking down the last half-mile, or so, of the paved portion.  When the trail diverged from the asphalt, a volunteer was there taking thru-hiker permits by hand, rather than the drop box to which most hikers are accustomed.

  

The trail seemed to go on forever.  That climb took a few hours, or so it seemed.  Occasionally, I’d get a glimpse of the fire tower from the trail.  More often than not, it seemed only to throw salt into wounds. However, it did start appearing to get closer, so I took another picture.

Again, no more zoom available…

When I had almost made it to the top, I was able to find a spot with a clearing that offered a view back down the mountain to where I’d stayed the night before.  That little community nestled in the mountains is the Fontana Village Resort.

 

After a final switchback, I was on the final climb to the summit.  The fire tower was down a side trail.  Where that side trail met the trail, several hikers had gathered to take a break, drop gear to make the trip to the fire tower with only a camera, or have a meal.  In the mix was 6’12”.  He’d started the day from the dam.  I guess, the day before, he’d arrived at the marina, called the shuttle, and then had been offered a ride by some folks who had parked at the visitor center.  While I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled about walking the extra mile or two to get from the marina to the dam the day prior, it rewarded him with a head start today.  He liked my plan of trying to do the smokies in five days, meaning we’d need to average about 15 miles a day.  We still had nine miles left from this point.  I ran up for a few pictures from the fire tower while 6’12” made sure that particular tree, against which he was leaning, didn’t fall down. 

You can see the dam in this picture. I’d bet it’s easier going back down…

  

Rickety. Everyone’s heart skipped a beat, or two, when the wind blew.

  

The remnants of what appears to be an old house atop Shuckstack.

 

When I got back down to the trail, a few had left and a few more had shown up.  One guy had these.  Blog worthy.

Not just for Grant Hill, anymore…

I think, at this point, it was about 2:00.  We still had nine miles to go.  I loaded up and moved out, 6’12” in my wake.  There was a campsite a bit further down the trail.  In the smokies, as a thru-hiker, you’re required to camp in shelters.  I think this campsite was placed here so the weary hiker would have an easier place to stay after the climb out of Fontana Dam.  The first shelter was Mollies Ridge and is about 10 miles from the southern border of the park.  We still had plenty of daylight, so we carried on. 

Too bad they can’t say that at Soldier Field…

Our goal was the Russell Field shelter.  There was another shelter, Mollies Ridge shelter, about two and a half miles closer.  It was tougher hiking than I’d imagined.  As I was approaching the Mollies Ridge shelter, I told myself I’d press on if I arrived before 6:00.  If I arrived before 6:15 and there was space available in the shelter, I’d also keep going.  You see, if the shelter is full, a thru-hiker is allowed to set up his or her hammock or tent in the immediate vicinity.  Had I arrived at Mollies Ridge to a few open spaces in the shelter, I would have been required to sleep in the shelter.  Therefore, I’d continue hiking if it were a bit later.

As it were, I arrived to the Mollies Ridge shelter at 5:56.  I didn’t even break stride, I just waved at the few friends I saw settling in for the night and charged on to my destination.  I covered the next two and a half miles in exactly an hour, arriving at the Russell Field shelter at 6:56.

Several buddies were there, including John (Salmon).  His sister, Clothesline and her boyfriend, 12, were visiting over the Easter holiday and we’re going to hike with Salmon from Fontana Dam to Clingman’s Dome.  There, they’d get a ride down the mountain to their car and return to Fort Bragg, NC, where 12 was stationed.

Also at the shelter, were two park rangers on a search and rescue mission.  To be fair, it was more of a rescue mission as the hiker in question was located at the Mollies Ridge shelter, no search needed.  I had no idea anything was going on as I passed through.  Apparently, the guy was fairly malnourished, possibly dehydrated, and didn’t think he had the energy or ability to get off the mountain.  MRE’s in tow, the rangers set out to feed and aid the desolate hiker.  That job seems pretty cool.  Hmmmm.

I hung out for a bit talking with 12 and Clothesline about the Army.  As hiker midnight approached, I climbed into the hammock (shelter was full) and called it a night.  There was supposed to be a red moon, or some type of lunar rarity, that evening.  I didn’t get up to see it.

Day one of the smokies complete.  15.1 miles.  On pace to make it through in five days.  I didn’t see 6’12” at the shelter before I got in bed.  He’s either still on his way or he stopped at Mollies Ridge.  Tomorrow’s goal is Silers Bald shelter, 15 miles away.

Good night, folks.

Day 24, April 3rd

Today I’m taking an unplanned zero day; thanks, in part, to the United States Postal Service.

If you read yesterday’s post, you recall that I arrived to the Fontana Resort to pick up a package that hadn’t arrived, yet.  When I updated my tracking information yesterday afternoon, it changed to reflect a delivery date of today, while still indicating it was “on time.”

Oh well, I figured, there probably isn’t anything I can do about it.  I should probably just enjoy the downtime. 

I decided to have an early breakfast and then hang out in the lobby for a bit.  The wifi was much better there than in the room, so it seemed logical.  I asked the front desk attendant to please verify delivery times for USPS and was again told any time between 1:00 – 4:00.  Swell.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “Self, why is Boomer calling today an unplanned zero day if, in fact, he may very well receive his package at 1:00?”

Doesn’t that leave plenty of time for hiking?  It does, indeed.  However, upon my arrival to a very comfortable armchair in the lobby, my initial task was to check for any updates in the status of my package.  Maybe it had magically made it to the lodge overnight.  Who knows?  Alas, the post office has not only inserted the knife in my back, now they’ve twisted it.

  

You’ve got to be kidding me.  Another day?  This is getting old.  Ridiculous, even.  Notice how the service purchased was two-day shipping and it left on the 31st.  It should have been here yesterday, now it’s scheduled for delivery TOMORROW, and they have the audacity to claim it’s ON TIME!  The folks in the USPS tracking department have some serious kinks to work out.

With nothing better to do, I went to the front desk to see what all the wonderful village had to offer in the ways of entertainment and fun.  Not.  Much.

Because it was still early in the year, the pools and such weren’t open.  There were lake tours offered for insane amounts of money.  I could rent a pontoon boat for eight hours for $330.  They don’t have a skydiving department here.  I was left with two choices: miniature golf or disc golf.

Both options required renting gear from the general store at the bottom of the hill.  As luck would have it, we passed the miniature golf course on the way to the store.  For those reading this from Albemarle, the course here makes the Good-O look like Augusta National.  Pass.

Down the hill we went to secure our disc golf gear.  The lady in the general store was incredibly nice.  She gave us the gear for free, didn’t charge us for ice under which a six pack of Howard Brewing’s Lake Fever Black IPA would ride, and even gave us a ride back up the hill to the first tee.  Silver lining.

It took a few holes to work out the bugs, but finally I was having a good time.  I figured at least walking 18 holes would keep my legs loose for the hiking I was hoping to do, sometime within the next year or two, depending on the post office.  I was playing with a guy I’d met on the trail named Forrest.  Like myself, not a trail name.  When it came to working out the bugs, Forrest would have been better off calling Dale Gribble.  Oh well, we had a good time.  We ended up skipping a few holes to lessen the embarrassment.

  

6’12” made it to the lodge around 6:00 today.  We had dinner and discussed the plan for the next few days.  I wanted to try to get through the smokies in five days.  He agreed.  As it turns out, his mom reads my blog and called to reprimand him for his bout of depression and lack of motivation.  Apparently it worked.  He did 14 miles today to catch up.

I decided to check the tracking information, yet again.  Upon doing so, I discovered the package had been delivered to Robbinsville, NC, this afternoon.  Outraged, I called the front desk hoping that it was a mistake and my package was in Fontana Village.  The lady at the front desk assured me my package had arrived, now a day earlier than expected.  I should be happy.  It means I don’t have to wait around for it tomorrow.  However, I can’t help but think that if the USPS’s website had been accurate, I wouldn’t have wasted the day playing disc golf.  I could have been on my way a few hours ago.

I guess that’s just the way it goes.  I gave away two of my beers at dinner, had a good meal, and called it a night.  At least I know I can start tomorrow early and get a decent jump on the smokies.

Day 23, April 2nd

Today was a long day.  I started again right at Stecoah Gap.  The guide book mentions that this area is the beginning of “Jacob’s Ladder.”

I hate Jacob.

It’s basically a half-mile climb that gains 600′ of elevation.  This doesn’t sound outrageous; but, it seems like the last 300′ are straight up.  It wasn’t very fun.

This is a view looking back down…

After Jacob’s Ladder, the terrain seemed to level out a bit, making my plan to do 14 miles into Fontana Dam seem plausible.  I was awaiting a package which included my sleeping pad, a necessity, considering staying in shelters is mandatory in the Smokies.  It was supposed to arrive this afternoon, so I needed to make it into town to pick it up and drive on.

The hiking was fairly mundane after Jacob’s Ladder.  There were several shelters and campsites I passed en route to this little picnic area out in the woods.

The trail bisects this little picnic area. It looked pretty cool. If I’d had more time, I would have stopped for lunch.

I’m not sure how far I was from Fontana Dam when I got a text from DABS telling me he was staying in the shelter just beyond town.  Perfect.  I could go pick up my package, jettison any extras, and track him down and hike with him for a few days.  By my calculation, I’d be at the intersection in Fontana Dam by around 4:30.  The plan was coming together.  Excellent.

Insert North Carolina rocks.

   

The next road I came to was at Yellow Creek gap.  It was about six and a half miles from where I needed to be in Fontana Dam.  Some folks were gathered at the road having lunch.  I said hello and kept going.  I wasn’t trying to be rude, I just wanted to make sure I made it to town today.  Plus, I wasn’t very hungry.  This sign greeted us on the trail on the other side of the road, reminding us of the omnipresent message to leave no trace.

  

NC HWY 28 was my goal for the day.  As noted on the sign, I was still 6.4 miles away.  More walking.

A bit down the trail, I got my first glimpse of the dam which marked the goal for today’s journey.

  

#Footbridge

  

This footbridge was 2.4 miles from today’s destination.  It was all downhill from there.  Sounds great, right?  Wrong.  Prior to coming on this trip, I assumed the downhills would be super easy and break up the monotony and pain of all the climbing.  It turns out the downhills are almost equally as painful.  Fortunately, it just makes you hurt in different places.  The combination of ups and downs proves to thoroughly destroy the legs of the budding thru-hiker.

About halfway down the mountain, I was reminded that it was the beginning of Spring.  It looked like the entire side of the mountain, at that elevation, had turned green.

Maybe this green is a good omen for the Smokies. Probably not.

I made it to the road at 4:22.  I’m starting to get fairly accurate with predicting times based on the guide book’s distances and elevations.  When I got there, I was offered a ride up to the lodge where the aforementioned package was waiting.  I arrived to find out it wasn’t, in fact, waiting.  I checked the tracking information online and it had finally updated.  Now it was showing that it would be delivered tomorrow.  It was shipped on Tuesday using two day express.  I’ve been doing simple math for almost two years, now.  Two days from Tuesday is Thursday.  The shifty folks at USPS still have it listed as “On-Time,” even though the original delivery date was today.  Liars.  I’m certain this unreliability has something to do with their potential downfall.

On a lighter note, when I connected to wifi, I received this text from 6’12”

  

Apparently he reads the blog…

The conversation went on to mention he was planning to make it to Fontana Dam tomorrow.  We’ll see how that works out, it was a rough 14 miles and he’d be starting where I did today.  I wish him the best.  We may end up hiking together, again, because I’m forced to wait here until this package arrives.

The forecast shows thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon and the people at the front desk told me mail usually arrives between 1-4.  They can’t narrow it down anymore than that.  Looks like I may have an unplanned zero here.

We went down to have dinner and I guess the proverbial “hiker hunger” finally set in.  I ordered the mushroom Swiss burger with bacon and some fries.  I finished the meal and felt like I hadn’t eaten anything, at all.  It was the strangest feeling.  The burger was fairly large and it did nothing.  I ordered another entree, a pulled pork sandwich along with another side of fries, and that seemed to do the trick.  A few ESB’s to wash it all down and it was time to call it a night. 

  

I’m in bed by 9:30 and feel quite content.  Hopefully my package will make it tomorrow and I can get back on the trail.  I was getting into a decent groove of 13-15 miles a day and feeling good.  Hopefully this unplanned zero won’t screw it up.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow will probably be uneventful since I’ll be sitting around all day waiting on a package; but, I’ll do an update, anyways.  They have disc golf and miniature golf here.  Hopefully that’ll serve to squash the boredom a bit.

Oh yeah, this happened, too:

https://youtu.be/qleNoIzENNo

Night folks.

Day 22, April 1st

Well, it had to happen sooner, or later.  6’12” and I got a divorce.

My family called and said they wanted to try to meet me at Clingman’s Dome on Sunday.  According to my math, that’s about 63 miles in four and a half days.  Time to move out.

I spoke with 6’12” about it this morning and he’s not interested.  His plan was to do about six miles today, seven tomorrow, and then yellow blaze to Clingman’s Dome by Sunday.  I really hope he’s not losing his motivation.  He didn’t want anything to do with the tower on Wesser Bald and is now planning to skip almost fifty miles of the trail.  I think he’ll come around; but, I have to move on.

In spite of that bad news, the day still started off amazingly.  It turns out Clif bars come in Cool Mint Chocolate.  This is my favorite flavor of anything.  The first beer I ever made was a mint chocolate stout.  It was terrible, but the intent was there.  Thin mints?  Check.  Mint chocolate chip ice cream? Yep.  York Peppermint Patties?  Of course.  Now this?  My hike just got exponentially better.

If you love me, send me these.

So I got an early start this morning with a plan to do roughly 18 miles.  Lofty, I know.  We had heard rumors that the climb out of NOC was a rough one.  However, the terrain didn’t look impossible after the initial seven mile ascent.  Off I went.

 

 

I don’t know if you remember the campsite debacle from the prior evening, or not.  To sum it up briefly, 6’12” sucks at picking campsites.

After setting out this morning, we came across this little gem within a half mile of where we camped (on a steep mountainside) the night before.

 

Things got interesting after this.  About another quarter of a mile and I met this little rascal.

Surprise #1

http://youtu.be/dZcKZwfe1ek

Let me give you a little background information on snakes.  I hate them.  I absolutely abhor them.  They scare the hell out of me.  As you know, I’m wearing a Fitbit with a heart rate monitor.  After this encounter, I wanted a reference number.  So, while climbing a steep mountain, I checked and my heart rate was 93 beats per minute.  That was about seven minutes into the climb.  While I was doing nothing more than STANDING THERE looking at this snake, my heart rate was 117 beats per minute.  No me gusta.

After that guy left the trail, I hiked on.  Everything that touched me from the waist down was a snake. Every root in the trail was a snake.  Every stick beside the trail was a snake.  I was worthless.  I wondered what I might look like hiking the AT wearing shorts and snake chaps.  I’ll be checking Amazon tomorrow for a hiker friendly pair.

And then this happened…

Déjà vu

https://youtu.be/gXFM5w7f6ps

I needed to stop for some water and to try to calm down after all the serpent activity.  This megalith-esque monstrosity overlooked the water source.

 

After drinking almost a half gallon and filling my bottle with another 32 ounces, it was time to move on.  Shortly after the watering hole I came across this monument.

   

I’m not really sure why so many people had left stuff all over it; but, fearing some trail voodoo, I followed suit.  See if you can spot my addition…

 

 

The trail quickly turned into a lush green forest that reminded me of time spent on a farm in rural Colombia.  Add in gunshots and I may have a flashback of abuelita serving me cabeza de pollo.  Mmmmm, Colombia, not just good coffee.

 

At this point, I was still within five miles of my starting point for the day and was flying through water.  Fortunately, up ahead, there was another source.  The problem with these water sources is that with the rising temperatures, they are breeding grounds for bugs.  This one had really nice water.  However, notice the bugs in the second photo once I backed up from the pool.

 

  

 

A little bit more hiking would yield the first view of the day.  This was called “The Jump-up.”  No clue why.  If you look carefully, you can see the NOC in the distance below.  Elevation.

 

  

 

“The Jump-up” was the first major goal of the day as it was the end of the initial ascent.  However, after a short trip down to the Sassafras Gap shelter (Yep, more Sassafras), another one awaited.   The streak continues.  The climb after Sassafras Gap, which lead to Cheoah Bald, proved to be the toughest of the day.  Fortunately it was nearly all downhill after that.

   

  

It turned into rural Colombia, again.  I think it was the temperature that made me feel like I was back in South America since we finally had some really good weather. 

 

  

 

On the way down into Stecoah Gap, North Carolina launched a full-blown attack on Georgia’s rock reputation.  Mission complete.

   

  

I found a spot where someone had obviously gotten fed up with switchbacks and decided to make his own trail.  For the record, this is cheating. Don’t do this.  To be fair, I don’t care what you do when you’re out here, just have a good time.

 

I made it down to Stecoah Gap and called it a night.  It wasn’t 18 miles.  I didn’t realize how much the climb out of NOC would take out of me.  Tomorrow I have 14 miles into Fontana Dam.  The terrain looks fairly easy.  There is one exception: Jacob’s Ladder.  More to come on that, tomorrow.

In other news, I got my first blister of the trip.  I read the best way to treat them is to thread a needle and run it through the blister, leave the thread in the blister overnight, and in the morning, it’s supposed to both drain and harden.  I guess we’ll see what happens in the morning.

 

That’s it for tonight.  By my math, I have three and a half days to make it 49 miles if I’m going to be able to see my family at Clingman’s Dome.  To be honest, I don’t think it’s a great idea.  I think the climb out of Fontana Dam is pretty sporty.  I’m pretty sure I could make it there on time.  I am just nervous about doing something that may cause injury, ending my hike prematurely.  As of now, the plan is to play it by ear.  Also, for those unaware, just North of Fontana Dam is the southern boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Bears, ice, snow, and stuff.

Bed time.  I’ll be able to update again tomorrow evening from Fontana Dam.

 

Lambie

My three year old daughter gave me a Lambie to bring with me on my hike.  I like it because Lambie has always been our thing.  I buy her all kinds of toys and one she loves the most and sleeps with every night is her Lambie.  So, she wanted Daddy to have one since he’d be sleeping in the woods and she didn’t want him to get lonely.

Ergo: Lambie photos.

   

     

Day 21, March 31st

Today was pretty laid back.  We had Wiggy bring us from the lodge back to NOC.  Since we’d done over 17 miles yesterday, we told him to fit us in his schedule at his convenience.  No rush.  The trip involved us getting out of his vehicle and waiting at some random road while he pressed on with some other hikers, followed by his coming back to scoop us up after their departure.  I’m not entirely sure why we weren’t allowed to stay in the vehicle with him.  Crazy Brits.  At least we got to stand by this sign…

  

I think we finally got there around 10:30 and decided to have breakfast at the River’s End restaurant on the Nantahala.  I spent some time catching up the blog and watching TV.

Apparently today was a good day for hikers to come through, based on the packs.

  

So we hung out here for a while and grabbed a few things from the general store.

Shortly after that, I had an interview with CW from http://www.hikertrashnation.com for his upcoming podcast.  It’s official, I’ve been IN a podcast prior to ever having listened to one or knowing what one is.  I’m really not kidding about this, I have no idea what it is.  However, being in it, I’d like to at least listen to it, however that works.  I’d appreciate any help from you guys.  Do I need to download an app?  Is it just going to be a link on his website that plays audio or video?  Podcast.  Time to fire up the Google machine.

I missed his first call because I was on the phone with a reporter from my hometown newspaper who had been shown this blog and was wanting to do a story about my hike.  So it begins.

I asked 6’12” if he wanted to be my PR guy from now on.  He declined.  He keeps calling me a superstar now.  

That took up most of the afternoon and when we finally decided to take off, the sky turned black and it started thundering.  I was not taking a zero.  I was okay with a “near-o,” but not a zero.  “If it ain’t rainin, we ain’t trainin.”

   

   

Do you see that? Sassafras Gap Shelter. Great.

   

Since we have to go straight up for the first seven miles out of NOC, 6’12” decided to go ahead and start early since he knew I’d catch him shortly thereafter.  Apparently, in Milwaukee, rain is poisonous and will make you melt because as soon as it started raining, 6’12” made an abrupt left turn and immediately set up camp.  I’m talking about he didn’t consider anything else, just freaked out and pitched a tent.  I hadn’t caught up to him at this point so I had very little input in the plan.

So, if you’re wondering, camp tonight is less than a mile from NOC and on the side of a mountain in a small valley that’s almost certain to flood his tent during the thunderstorms they’re predicting.  Good call, 6’12”.  Ground dweller problems.  

Currently, something is walking around in our campsite and since we both have cell service, I’m doing my best to text him and convince 6’12” it’s a bear.  It’s actually kinda fun, because I know he’s losing his mind down there in his tent thinking there are animals in camp.  Fortunately for him, his biggest threat this evening is the incline upon which he’s placed his tent coupled with the looming thunderstorms.  I believe his words were, “If it starts storming, I’m going to end up being really good at bobsledding.”

It’s hard to tell from this picture; but, that hill he is on is quite steep and carries on for about a half mile right into the Nantahala River. Please let this happen!

I’m out for the night.  We’re going to try to make Fontana Dam by Thursday so I can pick up a package and we can get ready for the smokies.  Tomorrow is straight up for about six more miles and then it’s supposed to level out with a gradual descent over the remaining 20 miles.  Should be fun.

I’ll catch back up in a few days.

Another Plug

  

If you’ve been following along, you know that we had a cancer scare a few weeks ago.  I decided to try to raise money for Susan G. Komen while hiking the trail.  So far, we’ve got a little over $650 pledged.  It sounds good; but, in reality, it’s three families who have each pledged $0.10/mile, one of them being my wife and I.

Just a reminder that this effort could really help out a great cause.  The pledge is simply that, a pledge.  You won’t be asked to give the money until I’ve completed my hike which should be nearly five months from now.  A penny a mile is $21.89.

Cut one Starbucks coffee out of your life each month between now and when I finish and help a great cause.  Instructions are simple – send an email to boomersatthruhike@gmail.com with your name(s) the way you’d like it/them displayed on the fundraising webpage and your pledge amount.  We’ll keep track of everyone and when I’m done, we’ll let you know how much you owe at that time (hopefully a multiple of 2,189) and provide you with a link to make your donation directly to Susan G. Komen through my fundraising page.

Thanks for your support!