As far as we know, the bears here are unarmed. Our kids, however, armed with a little knowledge foraged a delicious salad from flowers, shoots and leaves (good eats). At lunch they were collecting trillium leaves and explaining to a couple other hikers that the leaves were edible (a virtual tidbit picked up from their grandfather over the interwebs). It turns out these other hikers were master foragers. Read More
An early morning to head the last three miles into town. The plan was for dad to hitch in to resupply while mom and the kids hiked on. On the way, we met a German lady who informed us that where the AT crosses the Nolichucky river, an eponymous hostel offers shuttles into town at 9 and 11 am. Read More
The weather today was a little schizophrenic. It rained on and off over the night and we awoke to clouds whipping by in the morning and the sun dancing off the cloud formations. It would be sunny warm and humid (albeit windy), then the sky would darken, the temperature would drop, and it would rain for half an hour. Then the sun would break through again for half an hour, and the cycle would repeat itself. We learned to time our lunch and snack breaks for the sunny periods. Read More
We had a lazy morning in the meadow on Big Butt (the kids loved the name of this mountain, and after catching up to some other hikers, we discovered that potty jokes are apparently ageless — which of course is very different from timeless). We met a stray donkey on the trail (fitting after the mountain we slept on), which caused Orion to sound the alarm. The donkey just flattened its ears and waited calmly for me to get the leash on. Then it let the kids stroke his muzzle before ambling on down the trail.
I was having a little trouble remembering what happened on the 23rd, so I asked the kids, “what did we do yesterday guys?” Their response: “uh… We hiked.” I guess that about sums it up.
So the kids have favorite hiking socks. They were a gift from their aunt Barb who brought them back from a backpacking trip in Alaska. The kids each have a pair with a picture of a husky on them and the words Alaska written across the top, and each pair probably has over 200 trail miles on it.
We got into Hot Springs, NC early on the 21st after an easy 3 miles, had a great breakfast at the local diner, then checked in to our first hotel stay of the trip at Laughing Heart Lodge. We spent the day lounging in the sun with friends, eating more than our share of high calorie foods, soaking in the local hot springs, sleeping in comfortable beds and taking hot showers. It was vert restorative. Read More
Orion announces the hikers trying to sneak by to catch Easter sunrise on Max Patch, the grassy bald that was originally cleared by loggers, kept clear for decades by sheep, and now burned and mowed by the forest service. We climbed out of the tent and hurried the mile up to the top, but we, like they, were too late for first light. Read More
Up early and in to Standing Bear Farm where we bought eggs, sausage and English muffins and made breakfast sandwiches until we were full. The kids learned to play Texas Hold’em with Skittles loaned from fellow hiker Twelve Percent.
We woke up at a crowded shelter and separated from the crowd a bit by getting out on the early side. The location of the designated camping areas in the Smokies tends to dictate mileage, and we had planned on a moderate day,