Twig Adventures

AT Day 96: Fresh Grounded at the Fontana Hilton

Thursday Oct 28th 2021, 0600-1445 Derrick Knob Shelter to Fontana Dam Shelter, SOBO AT mm 2027.424.2 miles4550 gain, 7615 loss I woke to find dust covering every surface, including my quilt, pillow, face and phone. The wind had blown dirt from the shelter floor onto the bunks all night. Even my mouth felt gritty. I’ve never started a day feeling so gross. I promptly got up to shake everything out, then pack on a bench in the corner, slightly out of the wind. Cold and grumpy, I left early. I figured it was better to walk in the dark than in the rain that was forecasted to start later in the day. A comment on the app warned of rough trail[…]

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AT Day 95: Highpoints

Wednesday Oct 27th 2021, 0630-1900 Peck’s Corner Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter, SOBO AT mm 2003.328.8 miles6690 gain, 7150 loss It was very cold overnight but I stayed warm in my quilt. I’ve been impressed by it, given its 30 degree limit. I didn’t even wear my puffy to sleep. I left the shelter before Mud, knowing he’d catch up. I watched the sunrise from the trail, brilliantly framed by the mountains. I’d woken to clear and brisk skies…what a 180 from the day before. It was probably the best views I’d ever gotten from the Smokies, since usually it’s pretty hazy, when it’s not raining or foggy. I’d been 0 for 2 for views from Clingmans Dome on previous visits[…]

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AT Day 94: Into the Smokies

Tuesday Oct 26th 2021, 0930-1740Standing Bear Hostel to Peck’s Corner Shelter, SOBO AT mm 197523.6 miles7717 gain, 4414 loss It was hard to leave the hostel since the rain was still coming down in the morning. My hopes of doing a 30 mile day dissipated while I used the time to blog instead. I also snuggled with the cat and played with the dog. Mud and I decided on a shorter day since a closer shelter made more sense, given the elevation change. We’d be going from 1500′ to over 6000′. A 30 mile spread would have involved over 10k of total elevation change. I hadn’t done that big of a day since Maine and didn’t feel like killing myself[…]

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AT Day 93: Max Patch & Appel

Monday Oct 25th 2021, 0630-1630 North of Bluff Mountain to Standing Bear Hostel, SOBO AT mm 1951.624.5 miles5220 gain, 7320 loss I was pretty tired in the morning, having a hard time waking up. I wonder why…all the big miles, late nights, lack of sleep….hmmm. I was looking forward to getting to the hostel early, maybe even taking a nap…yeah right. I finished the climb to Bluff mountain in the dark, glad I had broken it up over 2 days. Still it felt like it took forever. My headlamp stayed on until 7:25 am and I didn’t see anyone until the next shelter, where I stopped to use the loo. A short walk through a nearby bald brought back pleasant memories[…]

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AT Day 92: Hot Springs…my completion of the AT but not the Finish

Sunday Oct 24th 2021, 0610-1920 Little Laurel Shelter to north of Bluff Mountain, SOBO AT mm 1927.428.8 miles7220 gain, 7070 loss Getting to Hot Springs, NC was significant for me. It meant my completion of the AT, taking into account the 2 section hikes I’d done in 2017. I also needed to sort out a late arriving package. I’d had my spare Therm-a-rest shipped, since the baffles on my current one were coming apart, resulting in bulges that made it uncomfortable. It’s also got a low R-value (2), which was great for summer conditions but leaving me a little to cool during recent nights. I needed my women’s xlite mattress, which had been my tried and true option for the CDT,[…]

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AT Day 91: House of the Sun

Saturday Oct 23rd 2021, 0630-1845Bald Mountain Shelter to Little Laurel Shelter, SOBO AT mm 1898.632.9 miles6980 gain, 8430 loss To make up for the lack of miles the day before, we planned another really long day. It was hard to get moving in the morning. The fog rolled in overnight, making the conditions cold and wet with condensation. I set out wearing all my layers for warmth, including rain gloves and skirt. I was so glad I hadn’t camped on the bald. I would’ve been in the cold wind and damp all night. The shelter was the perfect spot to sleep, saving the bald experience for the early morning. We reached the bald just as the sun glow was starting[…]

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AT Day 90: Cold Danger Noodle

Friday Oct 22nd 2021, 1000-1650 Jones Branch Rd to Bald Mountain Shelter, SOBO AT mm 1865.718.2 miles6335 gain, 2989 loss Sauna logic dictates that one prioritizes sauna time over hiking, maximizing the sauna coefficient. This is what I did in the morning, after eating several times as well. Consequently, we didn’t leave the river place until 10 am. We stopped again at a hostel that was across the river. It had some snacks for sale, plus we raided the hiker box… unfortunately it was all mostly trash. We found Bachus there, setting off with him to begin a huge climb out of the valley. We went from around 1800′ to over 5000′ through the rest of the day. It was taxing[…]

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AT Day 89: Will Walk for Sauna

Thursday Oct 21st 2021, 0630-1900 Cloudland Hotel Site to Jones Branch Rd, SOBO AT mm 1847.532.9 miles5930 gain, 10,375 loss The wind really picked up overnight, making for noisy and somewhat chilly conditions. I was most happy for my tent being in the trees and close to the ground. I could hear Mud’s tarp flapping in the wind and wondered if he was cold in his hammock. It was a risky thing to camp so high, so late in the season, but it worked out. The wind that blew up from the valley was temperate and dry, at least, coming from the west. The full moon lighted the surroundings like a lantern, dancing in the clouds that rolled up from below.[…]

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AT Day 88: Roan Mountain Highlands

Wednesday Oct 20th 2021, 1000-1800Mountain Harbor B&B to Cloudland Hotel Site, SOBO AT mm 1814.616.9 miles5840 gain, 2500 loss Mud slept in while I was up early as usual, working on my phone. Breakfast was at 8 am and not a minute was to be missed. I made sure to wake Mud just before. The hostess gave a long explanation of what was what in the huge spread, half of which I didn’t catch because my eyes and stomach were going wild. The fresh baked pastries, quiches, and biscuits were straight out of that British Baking show. I couldn’t sample something of everything and fit it all on one plate, so naturally I had to go back for seconds and[…]

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AT Day 87: Exponentially Fast

Tuesday Oct 19th 2021, 0700-1620 Kincora Hiking Hostel to Mountain Harbor B&B, SOBO AT mm 1797.825.1 miles5460 gain, 5170 loss I woke to the alarm clock of Boots puking up a hairball on the sofa. I reacted fast, throwing her off so she could retch on the floor next to Mud instead. Good kitty. Cats, you know? We were off early in the dark. I was eager to get miles done, while Mud wondered why we needed to leave so early in the cold if we planned just another marathon day…yes 25 miles is like an easy day for us but more realistic given the lack of daylight. I always like to get miles in the bank early because you never[…]

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