The Smoky Mountains

Pretty limited cell service up here – when I was last in a town, I was looking at some books about the plants and animals here – there’s a whole “of the Smokies” series. I picked the bird book, but I couldn’t decide which of the seven other options to pick (way too heavy), so I picked one that is of particular interest to me – I’ll give you a hint – “Hellbender”

Better than Groundhog Day

If you’ve ever seen the movie groundhog day, you’ll remember that Bill Murray gets to relive a day over and over again until he gets it right. Hiking up and down in the Appalachian mountains is kind of like that – every day you get to experience winter and spring – over and over – as you get above 4000 feet in elevation it looks like  dead of winter, then two hours later you drop down to 2000 feet and all these beautiful wildflowers are blooming – it’s amazing. I’m reacquainting myself with all the wonderful events of spring in the Appalachian mountains!!

I’ll try to upload some flower photos when I get better cell service. 

Happy Easter!!

Trail Magic

Most of my days are hiking up and down 500-1000 foot “mountains”, occasionally crossing dirt roads and rarely a paved road. At the end of yesterday’s trip, we came across  a little trail magic. Here’s a photo of “I believe” and me with the Mountain  Dew and lawn chair rest spot she was offering tired hikers. I can’t tell you how nice that was.

 Today I descend to the Nantahala Outdoor Center for resupply – it’s a big whitewater recreation area. Then a long 5 mile climb 😎

Goals and heroes

Up to now, I’ve been a little hesitant to share my goals because I was worried I might blow up early in the trip. Today I reached goal #1 which was to stay on the AT for 2 weeks. My second goal will be to get deep into Virginia by early May so T-bird can pick me up and take me to a celebration of my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary in High Point, NC. Here’s a shout out to Fichard George Rand and Yvette Pauline Rajotte Rand – married May 6. 1956!!!

The hiker community

Well, there are lots of hikers on the trail this year. I probably interact with about 20 each day – many thru hiking to Maine, some section hiking 20 – 200 miles, some on spring break, and some out for a day hike. About 2/3 are college age, mostly guys. Today I got lost a bit on the trail and this young guy named “Footlong” set me straight. Almost all hikers are Caucasian. I’ve seen one Hispanic fellow, one African American guy , and one Asian guy – no native Americans. I read in recent weeks that REI and ATC were trying to reach out to other ethnic groups. There are a fair number of guys my age out here   – maybe 20% over 50.

I guess the only folks who can take 5-6 months off are transitioning from school or between jobs. Many have planned this event for over a year. Seems everyone out here has been thinking about doing this for a long time. One exception is this young fellow named “Price Tag” who I met yesterday. He hurriedly put his gear together for his trip and most of his stuff still had price tags on it…

Franklin, NC

So I know that I’ve been complaining recently about the weather, so I’m going to shift gears a bit. I rolled into Franklin today to resupply. Puffy said I needed a selfie and I wanted to show you that the weather had improved. While I was here, I was interviewed by a reporter from the weekly Macon county newspaper- look for me and 3 of my friends in the on line edition on Thursdy. Hitting the big time!!!  J


The day after

That was one crazy night – wind was howling and snow fell for a few hours – low 20’s. It was brutal to get up and get started, but now I’m all warmed up – I’m atop Albert mountain and I passed the 100 mile mark – yippie!!


 View from the top of Albert



Weather continues to be rough – got sleet, snow , and hail today. I’m safe in my tent and the hail is coming down and bouncing off of it, forming a mound around the perimeter of the tent – I’m trying to decide whether I’m brave enough to go out and take a photo. The NC portion of the AT so far is no match for the trail quality in Georgia – it’s badly eroded and needs attention. Since  it’s volunteers that do this stuff, I guess I’m talking to myself and you all. Bring a shovel on your next trip to NC. 💪


  Just passed from Georgia into NC a few hours ago. It rained a bit today and suddenly got real cold – dipping in to the 20’s tonight. I’ve been hauling around all these warm clothes, so I’ll put them to good use tonight. I’ve got to say that north Georgia was really amazing – beautiful scenery and very nice people. 


Famous gnarled tree at the GA/NC border