Ed will begin blogging about his adventures on the Appalachian Trail soon!
The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest continuously marked footpath in the world, measuring roughly 2,180 miles in length. White painted squares called ‘blazes’ are painted on trees every 100 yards or so throughout the trail. It is pretty much impossible to get lost as long as you follow the blazes.
So what is so intriguing about the AT? Why do people attempt such a long and difficult trip knowing that only 25% make it all the way? These are questions I get asked all the time and they are tough to answer. There is something about nature that is always calling to me, beckoning me to venture out of the comfort of my home. I know, weird huh? But seriously, if I don’t go camping at least once a month, I get restless. The thing is, we are surrounded by technology that creates sensory overload; cell phones, computers, radio, TV… All of that is just too much and my brain begs for a detox! There is no better detox for the senses than a hike through nature. John Muir nailed it when he said:
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” – John Muir
When I read that quote, I was like “That is so true!” Nature does have this ability to heal, cleanse and change. For example, there are many Iraq war veterans that are hiking the AT and the Pacific Crest Trail to get over PTSD. Backpacker magazine had a great article on that topic several months ago. I see nature as God’s gift to man kind, a gift that can heal the most broken of spirits.
I decided to pursue this endeavor for many reasons. There is no one reason for me going out into the wild because the AT has a lot to offer. Some of my motives for the AT are as follows:
Gain more self confidence and inner strength by venturing out into the unknown.
Test my character by experiencing the elements, whatever they may be.
Experience the healing power of nature.
Spend some time and reflect on life.
“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty… No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening – still all is Beauty!” – John Muir
I can’t believe I am officially leaving tomorrow morning. This is kinda crazy because I never thought this day would finally arrive. The thing is, when I started planning this trip 6 months ago, that is all I did; plan. Now the stage of planning is officially over and it is now time to dive head long into this endeavor.
The idea is to keep everyone posted with weekly updates on my whereabouts. I’ll be doing everything from my iphone so please excuse my typos and weird writing errors. If you read something totally confusing and all you can say is “huh?!” then understand that it isn’t my fault. I am blaming auto-correct ahead of time.
My start point is Table Rock, SC. From there I will be hiking down to Georgia using the Foothills trail followed by the Bartram Trail. You might be wondering why? Well, simply because the Palmetto area is so fantastic! I have hiked portions of the Foothills trail but not the whole thing. This approach has only been done by a handful of people and I would love to be one of them. No worries, it will only add about a week to my overall trip, which isn’t bad at all.
Um, I think that is about it for a last post. Keep me in your prayers people and God Bless!
Hey everyone! I’m hanging out at the Blueberry Patch Hostel today, man is this place amazing. The hostel is truly a gem in the middle of the wilderness, but more on it later.
Saturday my parents showed up and picked up the dog. Hiking with Olive was fun, but it’s hard to take care of someone other than myself so… Olive went home. The plan was to hitch-hike the rest of the way to Springer because there are no other trails directly to Springer Mountain. When mom heard my plan to hitch-hike, she was horrified. Her ultimatum was either they give me a ride or I go home. I took the ride which was nice and quick.
I started in Amicalola Falls. This is the 8 mile approach trail that everyone takes. It’s not bad but it is a steep trail.
Going up the trail, I came across a guy who was finishing his Southbound hike. The guy started in Maine in August for a simple week hike. He liked the trail so much that he simply kept going for the next 7 months! Wow, hiking through in the middle of winter is incredibly hard. Well, I eventually made it to the starting point.
There were around 30 hikers camping up top which was pretty neat. As for places to sleep, there are loads of great camping areas. I simply couldn’t say no to this 2 story shelter that I came across. Sleeping in the top story reminded me of hanging out in a tree house when I was a kid. It was simply awesome! Luckily I had no issues with mice. They are very problematic at other shelters.
The people that I met here are so interesting. Slow Poke was named by his wife. He is a retired Vietnam Vet with some very interesting stories. Another guy named Canada was named because he came from there a couple days ago. The energy and positive vibe that everyone gives off is simply incredible.
The next day I went to Gooch Shelter. Everyone scattered their tents along the hillside around the shelter. In the mean time we hung out at the shelter and had a grand time talking and laughing. There were these two ladies that had no clue how to operate their cooking stove. A guy showed them how to turn it on and the lady took her pot, with the rubber cozy on it, and set it on the flames! Haha that was entertaining. What I’m getting at is this, some folks simply aren’t prepared at all. Guys, so much has happened on the AT and I don’t want to bore you with the details, so I’ll try to keep it short. So, what is life like out here on the AT? Lots of hiking, super awesome people, always thinking about food, always talking about food with people, the people out here are incredibly nice, and I’ve come across people from all over the world who are walking with me. They are what make the AT a fun experience.
Some highlights on the trail:
– I came across a guy whose trail name is Fresh Ground and he was doing trail magic outside Gooch Shelter. It was amazing! Fresh pancakes, fries, cookies, hot dogs, omelettes… He had it all. There was a hiker there pouring about 6 tablespoons of sugar into his coffee. He said “this will power me through these crazy mountains!” We couldn’t believe it, so I dubbed him Sugar Crush. Everyone loved it, so it stuck with him.
– I slept on top of Troy Mountain in 15* weather. There were crazy wind gusts all night. It was so cold I had to use my emergency blanket. Rough night. Next morning, I ate breakfast and as soon as I walked down the trail, more trail magic!!! Ben was grilling cheeseburgers, So I ate 2 with a Mountain Dew. Keep in mind this was right after 2 cups of oatmeal, cliff bar, and coffee. My hiker appetite has definitely kicked in. If you haven’t caught on, trail magic is when people make magic happen on the trail. And by “magic”, I mean food.
– I sneezed 20+ times one day, personal record. I passed a field where every bit of pollen gravitated into my nose. I stopped counting after 20 because I thought I was going to die haha!
– My new trail name is Spider-Man. They named me Spider-Man because I rock climb and do pull-ups every morning at the shelters haha. I love it!
Below are some photos that I’ve taken so far. Enjoy and I’ll keep you updated.
Hey guys, it has been a looong week for me. There is so much going on out here everyday that it is impossible to get bored. During the last post I was at BlueBerry Patch Hostel. What an amazing place. Honestly, if for some reason I had to stop my hike at BlueBerry (injury), I would have been happy with it. But its a good thing I’m still pushing onward. The first couple weeks out here was such an adventure because of the community of people out here. Every day I get to meet some of the most interesting individuals from all walks of life. So with that said, I’ll spend some time introducing you to my trail family while I give you a quick weekly overview.
As soon as I walked into NC, things changed quickly. I’m talking about the terrain. It was as if NC was saying, “Oh, you came from GA? Well that’s cute. Put on your big boy pants because this aignt no picnic!” The NC mountains are so much steeper than GA by a long shot. Walking out of NOC, nantahala outdoor center, we were treated to an uphill climb of 5,000 feet for 4 miles. It was like walking up a stair case for hours. But the view is always worth it.
There was a couple days when it was pouring rain all day and night. Those days suck because everything eventually gets wet. After a couple cold days of rain, I quickly threw up my bear bag and got into my tent. Some of the guys had a kick out of my bear bag that I strung up in the tree and we had some good laughs about it.
I have been leap frogging with a couple of people the past 2 weeks. Leap Frogging is when you pass somebody one day. Then in a couple days they catch up to you and pass you and so on. Ranger and Canadia have been doing just that. Ranger got his name because apparantly he knows everything about Forest Rangers. This guy is 6’2″ and man can he walk fast! I can never keep up with his long legs. Canadia is from Canada of course. She said we suck a naming foreigners because there is a guy name Swiss from Switzerland, a couple from S. Korea that everyone calls the Koreans, and a German couple that are called…The Germans. Well, Canadia is one of the toughest girls out here. She got hit by a car a week prior to starting the AT. The Doc gave her a knee brace and she is pushing on.
A quick photo with product placement and then I will continue ;). No blisters from my Minimus and they are holding up very well.
I met up with this group of people that call themselves the Flock. It’s a long story why but everyone there has a unique bird call. You are supposed to call out when walking into camp to identify yourself. They were so much fun to hang with for a couple of days. I eventually became an honorary member and my bird call was the Turkey haha! Their names are Oops; she is always falling or forgetting something.
Mary Poppins; she has everything you could ever need in her bag.
Maybe Mike; no one was sure if Mike was his name for the longest time. And Cupcake; this guys is something else! Believe it or not but he used to live 10 minutes away from my house in Spartanburg! The first South Carolinian I’ve met. He got his name by saying that the following: “I want this year to be so easy, minimum rain and no snow, that they put a cupcake on my AT badge!”
We had a grand time hanging out at NOC, Hobo camping near the railroad and sitting next to the campfire way past hiker midnight (9pm). I eventually took off and made it to Fontana Village. There is no cell signal out here but the local Grocery Store has a computer so I got a chance to upload this blog. Fontana is soooo much fun! There are so many hikers here hanging out and resupplying. And guess what, FreshGround is here!!! He provides trail magic to everyone for several days then moves up the trail where we get a chance to meet up with him once again. When I came into camp, I ate a full plate of his special french fries, 4 hotdogs and 2 DrPeppers. I was going to eat my 5th hotdog when a girl, Belue, asked for it. FreshGround was out of dogs by then you see so I told her no. I’m just kidding! Of course I gave it to her! I simply got a second plate of fries and then my appetite was satisfied.
Well, that’s about it guys! Operation GA was a success so onwards to Operation Smokey Mountains. That is going to be tough because of some crazy Polar Vortex is supposed to hit us on Tuesday.
Thanks everyone for you prayers and support.
Hello everyone! I survived the Smokeys. It was intense; fog, rain, ice everywhere, 0 degree nights, snow drifts 2 feet deep, ice showers (thats where chunks of falling ice from the trees are hitting you). It was pretty intense. I will update with a post and pics about the events in a couple days. Right now i have virtually no signal out here. The goal is to get to Hot Springs, NC in 3 days time.