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.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hot Springs, N.C. - 5/4

Ryan called this evening from Hot Springs North Carolina. They arrived there late yesterday in a driving rainstorm after their first 20 mile day.  They decided to lay over in Hot Springs for the day.  They are headed back into Tennessee in the next few days and will have little opportunity for resupply.  Since leaving Gatlinburg they have pushed pretty hard.  The last 4 days have been 12, 15, 17 and 20 miles on some serious ups and downs.  He said the 20 miles into Hot Springs was particularly rough.  The maps had shown a water supply point on the trail that they were never able to locate.  They hiked 4 or 5 miles of incline without water in 80 degree heat.  The final 4 hours was in a torrential downpour.  He said everyone got seriously soaked and their wet boots caused quite a few blisters.  He managed to work the word “fun” and “sucked” into the description of the day.  

He said they were on Max Patch Monday.  This is one of the biggest balds in the Smokey range.  Ryan said it was quite a hike to the top.  Lemon and Fish had friends in the area and they met the hikers at a crossroads with a picnic lunch. Awesome was the description. 
He said they are seeing more and more greenery as they work down out of the Smokies.  The trees are in full leaf and the wildflowers are in full bloom.  He said the rhododendrons are just now coming out and smell beautiful.  With the leave on the trees and flowers in bloom he said the trail was like walking in a fragrant tunnel.  He was enjoying the change in scenery and color.   He also mentioned that everyone had noticed a huge change in their sense of smell.  He said whenever they got into a town they noticed every smell. 
It's hard to have much of a discussion with Ryan and not talk about food.  He's obsessed.  He said the food conversation on the trail and at camp is never ending.  He's also backed down off his high protein freeze dried meals and is stocking up with a lot more calorie rich grocery products. Bagels, peanut butter, honey, easy mac, packaged tuna seem to be his current craze.  He went into an entire discussion about olive oil and garlic.  I'm not sure if that was fact or fantasy.  He seemed to black out for a few seconds.  We ordered Ryan some protein shakes, carb gels, and high protein bars that were sent in his Hot Springs drop package.  He said overall he's lost about 5 lbs.  This is a correction to an earlier claim of losing 12.  He didn't start the trip with a lot of weight on him.  Maintaining his weight and energy will be a continuing battle particularly with a long hot hike through Virginia. The trial will start to flatten out a bit and heat up in the coming weeks.  They will need to start pushing harder for 20+ mile days.   
He said that last night was the first time they had seen fireflys.  While sitting around the campfire their first inclination was that the glowing lights were the eyes of animals watching them around the campfire.  They were so convinced they walked into the woods before they realized what it was. 
They are starting to catch up with an entire new group of hikers on the trail.  There are new faces every day and had picked up a new hiker named Tabatha. She went into Hot Springs with the group.  I asked Ryan to update me on the group.  Fish and Lemon are the couple he has hiked with since the first few days.  Beer Burger, Bill is with the group still. Tabatha, a new hiker.  Ollie, Bear Bait is still hiking with them but elected not to go into Hot Springs. They will catch up with him on the trail tomorrow or the next day.  Chris, Data has left the group and has pushed on.  He reported everyone was doing well with the exception of the blisters they received from the 20 mile wet hike yesterday.  Ryan said Lemon had a blister that would make you pass out.  But that she was pretty tough and was nursing it along.  He said his sprained ankle was about 95%.
I asked Ryan directly if he was going to make it….the entire hike.  This was the first time I asked.  He said yes.  He was getting his rhythm down and getting it all figured out.  He felt like the last few tough days with rain and heat had really sealed his doubts and solidified his resolve.  Right now they have hikes 290 miles. 12.7% of the trip to Maine. 
They were all headed down to soak in the natural hot mineral springs and crash for the evening.  The next opportunity for resupply will be in Erwin, Tennessee, about 6 days out.  We worked out his drop package.  Ryan said he was sending journal entries and pictures from Hot Springs and they all planned on shooting a video this evening.  He’d get that in the mail before they left Hot Springs. 
He sounds like a guy planning on hiking to Maine. 


  1. sounds like everyone is committed, hang in there & have fun

  2. were proud of you Lemon! Tell Fish to call me about those camera memory cards..I have to ready to mail out.