The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately 2,181 miles long. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships,and managed by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions do traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers. The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Voice from the Woods - 4/16

Ryan called at 11:30 this morning.  He and his tribe is at the Berry Patch Hostel in Hiawassee, Georgia.  Ryan talked non-stop with trail details and stories.  He sounds like he is having the time of his life.  They camped last night at Tray Mountain in a driving thunderstorm.  This was the first night he stayed in a trail shelter.  This morning he had a 3 mile hike to Route 76 where they were immediately picked up by the guy who owned the Hiking Hostel.  They planned this day as a down day.  After getting a shower he and his friends are headed into Hiawassee to destroy an all-you-can-eat buffet.
He says he feels great and his feet are holding up.  After learning a trail trick of taping your feet he has his blisters under control.  Today marks 1 week on the trail.  Many have given up by the North Carolina border.  Ryan is 1 day from making that crossing at Blye Gap.  He has hiked approx 70 miles this week.  He says he is tired and really needed this down day but he feels strong and he sounds strong.  He said that the Georgia Mountains are very difficult.  Yesterday in 3 miles he went straight up 1000 feet of elevation, down 1000 feet and back up another 1500 feet. 
It sounds like the group of hikers plan on staying together.  They all hike at equal rates and all get along well.  Although they plan on a common destination each night, all hike alone through the day.   Ryan said one of the advantages of a group is being able to move into a shelter and take it over.  He talked about campfires every night and said it is one of the more pleasurable times on the trail.
Ryan talked about his friends and finally gave me some names, trail names.  The guy from Germany's name is Bear Bait, from losing his food to a bear the second night.  Chris from N.J. is called Data from constantly checking the maps and setting alarms for wake-up.  Bill is called Beer Burger. He and Bear Bait blue blazed off the trail into town the 4th night and met up with the pack the next night with 6 cheeseburgers and 6 beers.  Ryan said it was the best fod he has ever eaten.  There is also a married couple hiking with them, Fish and Lemon.  Fish is from Florida and is an avid saltwater fisherman and his wife, Lemon. 
AT through hikers are always given a trail name.  Most often their moniker is assigned by those they hike with.  Ryan is now known as Spork.  He got it last night in camp when someone offered him a taste and Ryan whipped his spork from behind his ear.  Apparently he carries his spork behind his ear all of the time.  So, he's now known as Spork.
Ryan said he will be mailing a data card home from Hiawassee with pictures.  These will be posted as soon as they arrive.  He said his boots are already getting worn and splitting at the seams and he will be looking to buy new boots in the next few days as soon as he comes to a good outfitter.  He is evaluating his equipment and really only questions water purification going forward.  Ryan is using a purification pump.  All water he consumes on the trail comes from springs and creeks and has to be purified before it can be drunk.  There are several options and he's back and forth on which is best.  He asked that I try to find a certain protein bar for his next food drop shipment.  Today he received his first package that was mailed to Berry Patch Hostel.  His next will be sent in the coming week to Fontana Dam.
Since he got into Hiawassee before noon today he plans on getting back on the trial tomorrow.  They are starting the day with the traditional Berry Patch Hostel breakfast of Blueberry pancakes.  Ryan says there is as much conversation about food on the trail as anything. 
He should be camping in North Carolina Sunday night.  They are calling for rain and thunderstorms for the next few days.   
Apparently Ryan was in proper condition for this effort.  They say Georgia and the first week is the toughest.  He seems to be cruising.  The coming two weeks will take him through the Smokies and across the tops of the highest mountains in the southern section.  He currently has his sites set on being at Clingman's dome by the 25th.  

Ryan checked in one more time last night to give directions for his next food shipment.  He said they were lounging around the Hostel and eating a pizza.  He also said that he is sending some pages from his journal and asked that I post them.  He ran down the entire list of the wildlife he had seen.  He was hoping for a good night's sleep and seemed anxious to get back on the trail.  Hearing how well he is doing sure puts your mind at ease.   

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