Dear Izzy, Ethan, Karlie, Alex, John, Jordan, Zachariah, Makya, Katherine, Xander, Abigail, Talon, Zackarie, and Mrs. Skelton:
Q: How are you doing so far?
A: Good. Sometimes my feet hurt. I’ve met a lot of fun people.
Q: Do you roast marshmallows when there is a fire?
A: we don’t usually carry marshmallows, but one day another thru-hiker named Achilles brought s’mores makings for everybody. We roasted marshmallows that night and it was lots of fun.
Q: How many tents do you all sleep in?
We woke up this Morning and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with our old trail friends (and our new trail friends). Two of our new trail friends had packs from the same Biddeford, ME company that custom made Cartwheel’s pack (Hyperlite Mountain Gear). Cartwheel took a picture with her new pack buddies (Ethan and Yeti Legs). Ethan is carrying his guitar the whole way and having everyone he meets sign their trailnames on it. Then we hiked all morning with our old trail buddies and their kids (the Rivers family). Read More
After the mercury dropped to 8 degrees overnight, we spent the morning building a fire to thaw the shoes enough to cram feet into them and get moving. The day dawned sunny and clear, and the sun coming through the ice on the trees almost made yesterday worth it. Read More
Twenty five degrees and hailing sent the Cartwheel morale barometer to and all time low. The trail was still a river from the previous days rain, so we were walking through slush in our trail runners and neoprene socks. Mamma Bear (a trailname that is apparently inevitable and is shared by the mom of more than one hiking family we’ve met – the other mom being Mossy, a combination of mom and bossy), after coddling and song singing failed to raise the mercury, gave Cartwheel a tough love peptalk, which I’ll paraphrase here (from the snippets I could overhear as the bone-chilling wind pummeled my hood with hail): “Maddy, I’m doing EVERYTHING I can to make this better for you. I promise that you won’t freeze out here, but at some point you’re just going to have to recognize that this is the reality and that the only way you are going to get warm is to keep hiking until we get to the shelter where you can change into dry clothes. Sometimes life is tough, but you’ll get through it.” Read More
Started off by crossing Fontana Dam (a truly immense piece of concrete and a remarkable piece of engineering). Had a steep uphill with some impressive views including those from a rickety old fire tower before the weather rolled in, then got some cold rain. Read More
Some sort of feral pig was squealing in the distance through the night, which was driving Orion bonkers. We had an early start to hike into Fontana Dam by noon to meet the lady who was picking up Orion to board him while we go through the Smokies (no dogs allowed). After a few miscommunications, some traffic and an unintended detour, she finally arrived around 3. Read More
Nathan reads Lloyd Alexander with his hot cocoa at camp. Dad ponders some mountains in the morning. In the afternoon, we come across a birthday party thrown for a former thru-hiker and Appalachian Trail Conservancy Ridge Runner: Read More
Our first showers, laundry, and restaurant meals of the trip at the Natahala Outdoor Center. Mouse fishes the Natahala River, and the kids relax in the demo hammocks while the adults resupply. A hot lazy day. Journaling by the campfire in the evening. Read More
Nathan’s fourth grade buddies have sent along some questions. The kids’ answers are below.
Q: We want to know what you are eating. We know it has to be stuff that isn’t heavy. Read More
We met another hiking family. Cartwheel trades stories by the campfire with their youngest. Mouse stumbles upon a geocache hidden in a tree at our lunch spot. Read More