Stay posted!

Ed will begin blogging about his adventures on the Appalachian Trail soon!

The AT and what it’s all about

at

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.

blaze

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

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Starting the AT tomorrow!

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!

I’m still alive people!

Hey everyone!! So much has happened, so I’ll try to summarize things up and keep it short.
Starting with Serge
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Day one was rough. It started with a ascend of Table Rock Mountain with Surge. That was a great warm-up. Then I took off solo towards Pinnacle Mountain. The lady at Table Rock ranger station advised to take the  Ridge Trail to Foothills trail. She said it was a 1 mile shortcut. This took me 2 hours to ascend. Talk about a steep climb! That ain’t no 1 mile that’s for sure. Anyways, I then proceeded up Sassafras Mountain. Man my legs were smoked by the end of the day. What made matters worse was me rationing water. There is virtually no water out there. If u hike that area bring lots of water.
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I found a really neat spot to camp on Sassafras. While unpacking I discovered why my pack felt unusually heavy. A well placed rock, at the bottom of my pack, by Ben, Al, and Serge. Hahaha! I should have seen that coming. Thanks guys!
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Here is a good view from Sassafras.
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The next day I got a chance to put in some good miles. It’s down hill from there to Laurel Fork Falls. But, theres no water!!! I started off the morning without any water and finally found a small creek later on in the day. Like I said before, if you’re hiking between table rock and Laurel Fork Falls, bring lots of water, like 10 gallons!
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Hiking near Laurel Fork falls is one of my favorite sections of the Foothills trail. It is full of waterfalls, small streams, and tons of bridges.
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The last flat bridge brings back good memories. Years ago Surge and I were crossing it on bikes when his tires got stuck in the gap halfway through. He fell off the bike and into the river head first. Lol. Good times. Anyways, I eventually made camp at the falls and soaked my sore feet in the river. (Note the product placement).
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Day 3 was rainy and foggy. I really enjoyed hiking in the fog. The whole place has a feeling of mystery when it’s surrounded by fog.
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Waking up to rain… Well it sucks. Let me put it that way. The highlight of the day was me getting to Gorges State Park in NC. I eventually made it to a great campsite in the evening only to find this:
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A bunch of abandoned camping gear (tent, clothes, tarp). Why would someone just leave their gear behind? Things got kinda spooky so I moved on. I set up my tent just in time before another dose of rain hit me. Rain+Cold=rough life.
Day 4.  After you get passed Lake Jocassee, the trail follows old logging roads for like ever. This section of trail is pretty boring. Then you get to White Water River corridor. This place has a lot of neat rapids and waterfalls, but camping isn’t allowed here (sad face).
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Once I got out of the corridor, I hiked up to the top of the mountain and set up camp. I had cell signal for once and was able to call home which was nice. I want to mention my choice of campsite. I unknowingly set up camp underneath an owl nest. Don’t get me wrong, owls are cute and all, but they get super annoying quickly. They kept waking me up all night and wouldn’t pipe down.
Day 5 was a very interesting day. I ran into an actual living person in the morning (not a figment of my imagination). Bev is a retired lady who has done the Foothills Trail twice. I got one word for her; respect! I have only met a handful of people out here, most are day hikers. Anyways the weather was clear and sunny and my shoes were dry.  Life is good.
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View near Sloan Bridge.
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I eventually made it to Chattooga River which was a huge milestone for me. When I was hiking along the river corridor, a mountain lion jumped out and attacked a little critter right in front of me. It was about 50 feet away from the trail to my right. Olive went nuts! I was blown away by what I saw. This is what went on in my brain at the moment:
mountain lion
” Wooow! A real live Mountain Lion! This is unbelievable! Man, that thing is huge. It’s as big as me, wow! Wait… That is a really big animal. It also has massive claws and teeth…. I better get outa here!”
And thats exactly what I did. Olive and I took off down the trail. The whole time I was looking over my shoulder to make sure it wasn’t following me. The funny thing is, that cat could probably find me blindfolded because Olive smelled of wet dog and I hadn’t showered in forever. Well, after 1.5 miles or so I stopped for a quick breather. I was thinking about that poor little critter, RIP, when all the sudden I heard the methodical cracking of leaves on the ridge line above me. Olive heard it too and went nuts again. My mind was racing with thoughts again:
“Could it be the Mountain Lion stalking me? No. I heard they are supposed to be super stealthy. Maybe this one just failed at Stealth School. No. It sounds too big. Could it be a bear? No. They are still supposed to be hibernating. Hmmm, Sasquatch?”
I didn’t know what was above me and i didn’t stay to find out. Olive and I booked it down the trail once again, but this time with no breaks. I reached a decent camp site at night and by then my legs were smoked. While setting up camp, I came up with this grand plan if the beast visits me: First, Olive would attack. Then, I would pepper spray it in the eyes followed by a roundhouse kick to the face! Yea, that should do the trick.
Day 6 was the coldest day yet. I actually had to hike in thermal clothes. It never got above 35 degrees. Some good news; no big cat last night. Bad news is; I ate the last of my food this morning, Quaker oatmeal. I ate more than anticipated, but thats alright. I heard intermittent fasting is healthy.
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I eventually reached the Bartram Trail and headed off down the easy beginning 10 miles. It is full of pine groves which I really like. Then, came the last 12 mile portion. I didn’t know it would take me straight to the top of the mountain ridges. The panoramic views are amazing. However, I didn’t get any pics with my cell phone because sleet rain started to fall. I did get pics with the GoPro so Al (aka Lex the Defender) will insert them later. But you heard right; sleet rain. That was rough. I kept pushing throughout the night to get off the ridge line. I finally got down into a gorge at night and set up camp in the rain. Did I ever tell you how much I love cold rainy weather? Haha Good Livin’. I ended up doing a 25.5 mile day which was awesome. Oh, I almost forgot to mention what got me through the long day while starving. When i was pushing through the mountains in the sleet, I was thinking about a large Footlong Chicken Teriyaki Sub from Subway the whole time. Seriously no joke! That image was burned into my brain and I would have given anything for one. The funny thing is I’m not a huge fan of Subway, but hunger does funny things to you. This is no lie, but I dreamt of food all night long. In one of my dreams: Drey and Mike showed up with a giant pizza and breadsticks. Haha boy was I happy. We were eating, laughing, and having a grand time. Then, I remember another short dream where a guy that I barely know, Dr. Moroner showed up and gave me a huge cake. Lol I woke up the next morning with a smile on my face despite being hungry.
Today is day 7. I’m sitting at Burger King in Clayton, GA typing away while drinking hot coffee. I miss everyone and truly appreciate the prayers and support from you guys. Yes, this is the short version of my first week. Hope you enjoyed.

Operation AT

Chuck and I crossing from Georgia into North Carolina

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.

And so it begins

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.

Amicalola Falls

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.

Shelter Slept in Upstairs

View at the top of my tree house shelter

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.

Meet Canada

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.

One of many shelters

Owners of Blueberry Patch Hostel

Fresh Ground giving trail magic

Eating my cheeseburger trail magic

15 degrees outside with strong winds

Operation GA was a success!

Cheoh Bald

Cheoh Bald

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.

Near Muskrat Shelter

Near Muskrat Shelter

Chuck

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.

Worst bag hang i've done haha!

Worst bag hang i’ve done haha!

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.

Ranger and Canadia

Ranger and Canadia

A quick photo with product placement and then I will continue ;). No blisters from my Minimus and they are holding up very well.

Eating lunch on Rocky Bald

Eating lunch on Rocky Bald

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!”

The Flock

The Flock

Cupcake

Cupcake

Cupcake discovering leverage hahaha!

Cupcake discovering leverage hahaha!

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.

FreshGround, the nicest guy I know.

FreshGround, the nicest guy I know.

Eating Hotdogs at Fontana Shelter

Eating Hotdogs at Fontana Shelter

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.
SpiderMan out.

Quick update

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.
Take care,
Spidy