Mr. Jones' AT Trail Blog

April 20, 2017, Pearisburg, VA

posted Apr 23, 2017, 6:06 PM by Web Master   [ updated Apr 23, 2017, 6:06 PM ]

Not sure when I sent my last update, but I'll recap the last few days. I hit VA on 12 Apr, doing 33 miles on the "TN Turnpike" - a relatively flat stretch that is conducive to more miles. That remains my longest day - 12+ hours. My feet were killing me and I had to care for some ugly blisters the next day, but I was clean, my clothes got cleaned, and I had a great meal. (Any meal w/o dehydrated food is now defined as great!). 

Leaving Damascus, VA, the AT parallels the VA Creeper Trail, a rails to (bike) trail conversion that runs along a river
‎for miles. The AT goes up and down then may cross the same bridge as the Creeper Trail - didn't seem fair! Climbed the Grayson Highlands - a beautiful area with many wild ponies, deer, etc but no sightings of bears.

On Sat 15 Apr I had another 30 mile day because I had a mail pickup in Bastian on Tuesday and had miles to make up. It also helped that at my destinatio‎n that night I could order a pizza to be delivered to the visitor center next to the shelter - so I was hiking for pizza! Reread the last sentence of the 1st paragraph if necessary to understand my motivation!!

Easter Sunday I hiked to Atkins, VA where a restaurant 40 yds off the trail was serving an all you can eat Sunday buffet. It was great and the price was right - $8! What was even better was that 2 section hikers next to my table picked up my tab and that of 2 other thru hikers - awesome trail magic!

I did reach Bastian in time to get my mail/food package from home. I started hiking at 6 AM because I had 11 miles to go, then 3 more off the trail to get to the post office before it closed for the day at noon. I walked 2 of the 3
extra miles ‎before someone responded to my thumb, but it proved to be good fortune. The driver dropped me at the post office with 90 min to spare - and then returned 20 min later to see if I needed. Ride back up the 3 mile steep road to the trailhead! Trail Magic of the 1st degree!!

The last couple of days have been cloudy and rainy - not the greatest weather, but not the worst either. I often hike alone, but meet section hikers and some southbound (SoBo) hikers. The last couple of days I've hiked with guys I met earlier and shared a shelter with a couple of nights. Everyone has a different pace and motivation, but it's nice‎ to see familiar faces.

Time to end this now. It's way past my bedtime‎ - which has become much closer to when the sun sets. I'm now in Pearisburg, VA, almost on the WV/VA border. 634 miles down, 1500+ to go!

Joker

April 16, 2017, Damascus, VA

posted Apr 17, 2017, 5:43 PM by Web Master   [ updated Apr 17, 2017, 5:43 PM ]

I'm writing this while my laundry dries, in Damascus, VIRGINIA!! I'm back on schedule after 3 grueling days - 37 1/2 hrs on the trail and 83 miles further north.th

It seemed to take forever yesterday to reach town - I think because of the anticipation. It's surprising what a hot shower, clean clothes, and real food does for a body!

Since leaving Erwin, TN, I climbed the last of the 6000' peaks, at least until NH. Have had great weather, al‎though 2 days ago it hit 83+ degrees. That's a little warm for a grueling hike - especially if the humidity is also high. That means more time harvesting water - unproductive time!

Have split times between staying in shelters and in my tent. The first is more social, but makes it hard to leave early‎ w/o disturbing others. On the other hand, I'm not having to take down and pack the tent. A couple of nights ago I was camping all alone just off the trail (stealth camping). After talking with Connie, I went out to brush my teeth before going to bed. I had my first encounter with a larger animal - a doe wandered in to graze, 30 feet away. She wasn't fazed,0so neither was I. The following day I had to hike further than planned because 5 or 6 miles of trail was restricted to no camping or cooking due to bear activity. Other than the occasional sign of scat, no evidence of bears. I have heard coyotes a couple of times early in the morning.

Will add a couple of photos. The dam is Watauga Dam and Lake. Nice area, but bear country! The other photos are of the sign for Jones Falls and the falls themselves. Neat!!

Joker

April 7, 2017, Erwin TN

posted Apr 17, 2017, 5:39 PM by Web Master   [ updated Apr 17, 2017, 5:39 PM ]

I have attached a few pictures from the trail or close by. The photo by the fire is inside the old cabin by the Nolichucky River - our primary means of heat. Not every night has been like this!  One photo is of the river taken from high up on the trail. Another is the view from Big Firescald Knob after a rocky and strenuous climb. One photo is of one of my more colorful blisters - don't know how I got a blister on the top of the toe, but at least it doesn't hurt or affect me.

March 30, 2017, Gatlinburg TN

posted Mar 30, 2017, 4:58 PM by Web Master   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 4:58 PM ]

It's been 12 days now and I'm just over 200 miles along the way. I'm overnighting in Gatlinburg TN, taking some time to do laundry, take a much needed shower, pick up a resupply box, recharge electronics, and get some real food. Oh, and to sleep in a real bed with linens and a pillow!!

Tomorrow it's back to hiking and I hope the storm they're calling for hits tonight instead of tomorrow. The first half of the Great Smokies National‎ Park was pretty tough, with lots of uphills and down with rocks, roots, and water. I was in a shelter last night - just 4 of us in a shelter that can hold 12, so there was plenty of room to spread out. I was pretty wasted after 12 hrs hiking and got in late. I slept better altho the constant strong winds kept the Park Service tarp at the front of the shelter flapping all night.

Yesterday was gorgeous, with views of Fontana Lake and Dam. Water levels looked to be appx 40 ft below normal. I did experience a different kind of trail magic. As I crested Rocky Top (the Mt not the song) I was greeted by a group of 6 or 7 coeds catching the rays. After speaking with them I started to walk off, then thought better of it and got a photo of me with them! It definitely perked me up.

The area around Gatlinburg shows major damage from the fires of 2016. I got a ride into town (15 mi) from a couple from SE Alabama‎ and they gave me some history of the area. They are in town for a long weekend and saw that I needed a ride. Hope getting back to the trail in the morning is as easy.

March 26th 2017, Nantahala, NC

posted Mar 30, 2017, 9:43 AM by Web Master   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 7:07 AM ]

He has completed 137 miles to Nantahala outdoor center in NC.  He is doing well but has some blisters on his feet.  He took today off to rest up and tend to his feet.  He ran into some "trail magic" yesterday when he and another guy he met on the trail walked up to a Baptist church group who set up a lunch for hikers.  Jerry was very grateful for the salad, real food and gatorade.  He said this area church does this twice a year.
Tomorrow he heads towards the smokie mountains and will walk up about 5000 feet.

March 22nd 2017, Hiawasee, GA

posted Mar 30, 2017, 9:41 AM by Web Master   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 7:08 AM ]

Today I'm taking a day to relax. Had a very short hike to stay at a hostel ‎just off the trail outside Hiawasee, GA. I'm at mile 66 or so, making great progress. Today is a day to get a resupply package from home, take a shower (!), do laundry, and generally recover.

 

I'm not hiking alone - have met hikers from Japan, South Africa, Australia, England, and other countries. People are friendly and exchanging stories help the miles pass.

 

Weather has been good, with quite a storm last night - which is why I was in a shelter instead of my tent. After 2 cold nights and windy days, yesterday hit 80!

 

Tomorrow I may leave Georgia behind. So far, so good. More later when signals and service permit.

1-6 of 6