I’ve been on the trail for over a month now and can’t believe how fast time is flying by. This is turning into one of the greatest experiences of my life and I only expect it to get better.

I was asked the other day what my favourite part of the trail has been so far. The answer was actually quite easy to come up with and it’s definitely Max Patch. I spent a couple of hours up there, cooked myself some dinner and watched the sun go down as a crazy storm circled. It never actually passed over the bald, so I was left dry and able to take some beautiful photographs. While I was sitting there eating my delicious Ramen noodles, I thought back to a funny video I had watched last year. The girls in the video are Wags and Gangsta, I followed both of their online journals as they did their own thru hikes. I learned a lot from both of them, but there’s definitely one strong message I took away at the end of their journey and that’s to have fun, no matter the situation. If you’re considering a thru hike I would recommend giving their journals a read.

You can find white blazes in the strangest places.

Snow White, Roaring Lion and Cowboy.

Headed to a warm bed after a cold week in the Smokies.

My temporary office at Standing Bear Farm.

Frost

Cedar Tree, inventor of the Packa.

Hikers leaving Max Patch.

Circling storm on Max Patch.

I decided to cook myself some dinner up on Max Patch, as I set up my stove a storm started to blow in but it circled fully around me, leaving me nice and dry.

The trail passes right through the town of Hot Springs, it’s strange walking on concrete!

A sign of spring? I’m not holding my breath.

Another hint of spring.

Cool Tool

Sometimes we even walk on roads.

Sweet Potatoes, Tin Man, Half Pint. Yes, those are croquet mallets.

Hiking up Big Bald.

Sweet Potatoes stuck in the snow. Not a good day to be wearing a skirt!

Recovering at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel.

A beautiful sight.

Drinking some beer and talking with DMax, my second trail angel.

Snow White enjoying her dinner.

Sunset, my favourite time to hike.

A rare, fully enclosed shelter. If I would have know how horrible the next day was going to be, I would have stayed in bed.

Roaring Lion performing blister surgery on Snow White.

Rocker and 40oz

The result, a piece of thread through the blister, so the puss will drain.

You sleep above the animals at Mountain Harbour Hostel.

Snow White at Mountain Harbour Hostel.

Start of a crazy night hiking.

Watauga Lake

Watauga Dam

Welcome to Damascus, home of Trail Days.

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’.

‘Lumbar’

‘Gadget’

‘Lucky’

“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.

‘Wanderer’


‘Blood Hound’

‘Snow White’ working hard in the snow.


Hoar frost.

A little sun and lots of fog.


Hoar frost.


‘Snow White’


‘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’


‘Roaring Lion’

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!

 

‘Cowboy’

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.

Fontana Dam

Fontana Dam

Ready for the Smoky Mountains!

  • Recent Comments

    • "What an excellent series of images -- looks like you made the most of 2015. All the best for 2016..."
      Alan on Adventures of 2015
    • "Wow, amazing images! Your X-T1 has seen a lot more of the world than my X-T1. Great compositions on all."
      Geoff on Adventures of 2015
    • "Amazing travels and photos. Can only dream to visit all those places on day."
      Kevin Lam on Adventures of 2015
    • "What a year indeed. These photos are incredible. It's awesome to see you and Martha seeing the world together...."
      Christina on Adventures of 2015