There were a lot of rumors spreading down the trail leading up to the Smokies, many have chosen to skip them and try later, but myself and 11 others decided to give them a try. The trail definitely wasn’t easy, but was far better than we were lead to believe. We were rained on, snowed on, sunk to our knees step after step, but in the end we made it unharmed and still managed to laugh along the way.
‘Gray Beard’ is a Ridge Runner, working in the Smokies.
Cold, wet ‘Cowboy’.
“Post holing” is not fun! (A post hole refers to the imprint you make when hiking through deep snow)
Another peak with NO view!
The sun made a very brief appearance.
Viewing tower at Clingman’s Dome.
Clingman’s Dome, one of the best views on the trail, so I’m told.
Snow White, not great at pool and not much better at darts! ;)
We get confused in towns. Where are all the white blazes?!
A packed shelter during Spring Break.
‘Snow White’ and I where forced to hang in the trees when we walked into a full shelter.
Making a hot dinner on a super cold night.
Warm and happy in her sleeping bag.
‘Roaring Lion’ attempted to make a fire for 4 hours in a cold, wet shelter.
‘Snow White’ working hard in the snow.
A little sun and lots of fog.
‘Cowboy’, trying to dry his underwear in the sun!
‘Cowboy’ soaking up more sun.
The only peak I saw in the Smoky Mountains. It lasted about 30 seconds.
‘Branch’ and ‘Apple Seed’
Two weeks on the trail and life is pretty great so far. The days are long and hard, but rewarding always. Things are pretty simple out here, we walk, eat, sleep and laugh a lot. I’ve managed to see the sun almost everyday for the first two weeks, but as I near the Smokies things are looking a little more grey and wet.
Trail names are one of many traditions on the A.T., they are usually given to you by other hikers, and represent your personality, quirks or even something silly you’ve done on the trail. An example of this is “Axeman” (see photo below), when he first started the trail he was found carrying a heavy hatchet that really wasn’t necessary, people thought it was funny and so he was named. My trail name is ‘Snow Plow”, I was given the name by Cowboy after blazing the trail for two days through fresh snow that sometimes was waist deep.
Time to hit the trail again, photos from the Smokies should be up later this week.
Axeman and Cowboy walking through a tunnel of Rhododendron’s.
Early morning after a cold nights sleep.
“Blow downs” are a big problem this year and as you can see they make staying on the trail very difficult.
The term “trail magic” was coined by thru-hikers to describe small, unexpected, remarkable events that lifted a hiker’s spirits and inspired awe or gratitude. My first bit of “trail magic” came in the form of Coors Lite, given to Cowboy and myself by Eddy and Grassman. They were driving by when they noticed us sitting on the side of the road eating our lunch, I guess they thought that we looked thirsty!
A lot of trees have fallen with all the big winter storms that have hit the east coast this year.
People carry very strange things into the mountains.
Hitching a ride into town.
Enjoying a rare camp fire at Brown Fork Shelter.
Playing with some long exposures at night.
White blazes painted on rocks and trees help us find our way down the trail.
A quick resupply before heading into the Smokies. That’s about 4 days worth of food.
Ready for the Smoky Mountains!
Weddings, portraits and music is what you’ll usually find on my blog, but for the next 4 months it will be transformed into a travel journal highlighting my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. If you’re not familiar with the AT, it’s a foot path that runs from Georgia to Maine, covering 2178 miles and 14 States. If you’d like to find out more, you can visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.