Appalachian Trail 2010

Clean Clothes—the illusion of cleanliness.

We’re sitting in the library in Hot Springs, NC for the afternoon. Yesterday we did about 17 miles from Max Patch Bald summit, where we’d camped the night before (amazing, awesome, you should do it) and stayed about a mile or so before Hot Springs at a random campsite which was nice. This morning we rolled into the town by 8am for some breakfast at the Smoky Mountain Diner. Ahhhh, coffee (a rare treat for me) and a huge breakfast that we couldn’t finish. Yes, I know, we’re calorie starved and I couldn’t finish my meal.

Since we’d stayed past the shelter we were some of the first to come into town and most everyone else came in later that morning. We hit the laundry first thing and now our clothes are clean but we still haven’t had a shower yet since we can’t check into the B&B until later today. That’s ok, at least I don’t smell so bad. It’s been so hot these past few days and there aren’t leaves on the trees yet so it makes everything so much worse.

The very cool trend on hikers is what I like to call, the pole strap tan. We have strips of white across our hands where the straps to our poles stay all day long. Part of it was dirt, but most of it is now a very bad tan line.

Well, photos are taking forever to upload here so I don’t have a lot to show you. If you want to look at everything so far you can go to our flickr photostream and check it out.

This was on top of Rocky Top, the second day in the Smokies. It was a pretty steep climb up, but had a nice view. You could see Fontana Lake back to the south and the fire tower on Shuckstack.

Chris has been looking in all of the small streams and water sources for salamanders. In the Smokies there is one called the hellbender that I think gets 2′ long. Oh, the day we came down Clingman’s and ran into the trail maintainers we heard a low grumbling/creaking sound and they told us it was a male spruce grouse (a bird). Ever since we hear them on occasion and they are really cool sounding. There’s also a bird that is very common that we hear daily and I wish I had Marc to tell us what it was.

At the lower elevations we are starting to run into a lot more wildflowers. Chris decided he was going to take a photo of every new one we see…which can get old fast if we stop every 10 minutes.

As for hiking and such, I’m slowly getting better. I still have a hard time when there is a big hill to do and I get down sometimes. Mostly I think it is because I miss ‘life’. It is such a completely different thing out here. Walking is work. It is fun, yes, but it can be work. It’s all day, every day and when you get to town or place to stop and see life happening…it makes you miss it a bit. We ran into two, well, how do I put it…old hillbilly guys…who were doing little bits of sections, low miles maybe 5-8 a day, just enjoying the day outside and doing crosswords in the shelter. They’d hiked the AT before and they said they bounce around and do little sections, shelter to shelter (or campsite) and hang out. I miss that. Lingering. I also like when we do bigger miles, too, because I know that I went a long distance that day.

We weighed ourselves at the outfitter here (Bluff Mtn Outfitters…pretty nice store, has some health food/organic kind of stuff, too. Made me want to go into Whole Foods) and they had a scale. It seems that the scale at Standing Bear was pretty accurate. probably about 12lbs or so for me and 18lbs for Chris. We’re going to have to start eating a little more soon, splitting the Mountain House meals isn’t quite going to cut it very soon. Either that or eat more bars during the day.

Since it has started getting warmer during the nights now I am finally able to sleep without layers of clothes. We also decided to buy summer bags. We weren’t originally going to, just keep our 15* bags and deal with it, but we found a Marmot Pounder for around $100 on Campmor and it is 40* and will drop some weight in the summer and not be so hot.

This is the shelter we had to ourselves at Silers Bald. Ahhhh…peaceful!

Well, I think that’s it. Our next stop is Erwin, Tn. Not sure if we are staying there overnight or just an in and out kind of thing. It’s about a five day hike from here. Then, Virginia isn’t too far away! We’ll have about 500 miles to walk in Virginia.

Until then, I’m going to try to start being more upbeat and not so down about things and keep on truckin’.


  • Patrice

    Just wanted to send my best wishes to you guys again. You’ve made it so far already! I can’t imagine how you are feeling, but I do appreciate your honesty about the hike. It really puts perspective on what you are doing. Of course, as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side … we are here in mundane “life” and you are doing something amazing. Yet, you crave “life” … Keep your chin up and know that we are all routing for you guys!

  • Timothy

    Make sure to post a review of the Marmot Pounder. I just got a new Campmor catalog and saw the bag’s specs. Would love to know how small it packs down to and what size stuff sack it needs. Being a 40, I suspect the comfort range is to about 50.

    Enjoy your hike. I may be ahead of you in late May as I start in Harpers Ferry about May 24th NOBO to Duncannon. Would love to meet.

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