Smokey Mountains- Been there, Done that!

ClingMans Dome

ClingMans Dome

Hello everyone! I am currently sitting at the Hiker Ridge Ministries Resource Center using their computer. This place is a gem in Hotsprings, NC. If you are ever in town, make time to visit Queen Diva. She is such a bundle of joy to be around with. She also makes some delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Hiker ministries

Hiker ministries

So what can I tell you about the Smokeys? The Smokey Mountains are completely different from everything else so far. The trail in Georgia has been deciduous forest (leave based trees). Once you enter into the Smokeys, be prepared to walk through amazing groves of Conifers (pine trees). I am absolutely in love with pine trees! The smell of pine and the carpet of pine needles is intoxicating.

Right before I left Fontana Dam, I was resupplying at the local store. Their selection is not amazing but not too shabby. My food bag was a total weight of 16.5 pounds. That was supposed to last for 8 days but… I ate it all in 5.

This is what a 16 lb food bag looks like!

This is what a 16 lb food bag looks like!

The funny thing is out here people do not count calories anymore. We simply measure intake of food by pounds per day. All my food is dehydrated stuff by the way: pasta, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and junk food like poptarts, snickers, paydays…
You may be surprised that I am eating 3 lbs of food a day but its actually perfectly normal haha! Most former through hikers are shoveling food down their throats all day long.
Well, once I entered into the Smokeys the weather for the next 2 days was supposed to be sunny. But that was wrong of course. It started snowing the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that… At first I was like “Wohoo! Snow, I love it!” After a few days I was like, “More snow seriously?! Come on!” And then things got interesting. The temp simply plummeted. I spent a cold night in my tent while it was 0 degrees outside. It was absolutely miserable haha! I would wake up every 30 minutes or so and do pushups/sittups to warm up and then try to go back to sleep. What made things worse was a re-occurring dream I had. There was this T-Rex that was chasing me all night long. He had it out for me hahaha! That’s what I get for watching Jurassic Park one too many times.

Eventually the snow stopped falling and I was able to put out some big miles despite the 2 foot deep snow drifts. I’ve never hiked in snow up to my knees but it was actually fun! I was able to dominate on the trail because of my shoe chains. Everyone was jealous and one guy even offered me $100 for them, but I refused because compromising safety was not worth it. I was lucky to make it to Standing Bear hostel where I could resupply.

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Standing Bear Hostel, wonderful place!

 

Tunnels through the pine forest, amazing!

Tunnels through the pine forest, amazing!

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Snow Chains, worth the .5 lbs

Snow Chains, worth the .5 lbs

One of my favorite shelters was Mt Collins Shelter. This place is nestled in among giant pine trees which reminded me of Snow white and the 7 Dwarfs of all things. I was expecting the Dwarfs to show up and kick me out. It is located .5 miles off the AT which isn’t too bad of a hike. I forgot to sleep with my wet shoes and socks that night, big mistake! My shoes were bricks of ice and my socks, well… If you held a piece of wood in one hand, and my socks in the other, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference haha! True story. However, Dune said that Shelter gave him magic dreams. He spent all night at an ‘all you can eat buffet’! Those dreams are always the best. A lot of people out here have mentioned how crazy and vivid their dreams get.

Mt Collins Shelter

Mt Collins Shelter

I eventually made it to Hotsprings after 7 days of hiking in the snow, and one miserable day hiking in heavy mud/slush. Totally worth it!

Highlights of the trip:
-I scored some sunglasses at a hiker box. It was awesome wearing them in the bright snow. But I forgot them at pecks corner shelter.
-I got a new Jetboil at Fontana Dam. Man was I excited, like a kid on Christmas! But it broke the 2nd day of use.
-I thought my food would last through the smokeys. But I ran out 3 days short. I’m thankful for Standing Bear Hostel.
-My quads are part steel now. But by Achilles Tendons are still not up to par with these mountains.

That’s about it for now people. Take care and God Bless!

Chuck vs Snowman. Snowman stood no chance!

Chuck vs Snowman. Snowman stood no chance!

Care Packages questions/answers

Several people have been asking me how and where can they send a care package. First of all, thank you for that thoughtful gesture! Well, you can send care packages to Damascus VA or Atkins VA. I will be at Damascus in 2 weeks and in Atkins in 3 weeks.
If possible, please send out the package at least 1 week before I get there. That way it will be there waiting for me, vs me stopping and waiting for any packages. But don’t send too much. My pack is pretty small and I can only carry so much.

This is how the package should be labeled if sending to Damascus:

Ed Goretoy
C/O Adventure Damascus
PO Box 1113
128 West Laurel Ave.
Damascus, VA 24236
PLZ Hold for Thru Hiker
ETA (April 18)

*if sending to Damascus, please send out the care package no later than April 11. Thanks!!!
The other location is as follows:

Ed Goretoy
C/O General Delivery
5864 Lee Hwy
Atkins, VA 24311
PLZ Hold for Thru Hiker
ETA (April 24)

*if sending to Atkins, please send the package out between April 10-17.

I hope that helps. I will also let you guys know where I will be in next month. Oh! Almost forgot. Please send me a message if you are sending me a package so I can keep my eyes out for it. You can post it on this blog or text me 864-542-3809.
I am so blessed to have trail angels like you guys looking out for me. Many thanks!!!
Spidy

Made it to Virginia!

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Hello everyone, it has been a long 2 weeks since my last post. Erwin, NC did not have any signal nor did Kinkora hostel but, I am hanging out at the local public library right now in Damascus. This is a beautiful town that only has 850 people. All the lawns are well kept and the homes are in good shape. I love little towns like this in the mountains. It is funny that I say a long 2 weeks because 2 weeks out here seems like 2 months back at home. The reason is that every day is full of adventure and experiences. Every step that I take during the day is with purpose and it counts. The perception of time gets distorted on the AT if you will. The concentrated dose of movement that I receive each day on the trail stretches out time. There is a common phrase that I use at home; “Time flew by!” Out here its the opposite, “Time stands still.”
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Right now I’m hanging out in Damascus doing chores like laundry, repairing gear, buying food and eating all day long. Zero days are the best. It’s dangerous to go into a grocery store hungry. You will always, ALWAYS buy way too much food. A V8 caught my eye and I couldn’t resist. There is nothing like the feeling of walking downtown chugging a 1.5 Liter V8 while the locals are looking with the facial expression “Whats wrong with that guy?” haha
The weather is still chilly out here. There are no leaves on the trees but the buds are starting to finally form. After 1.5 months on the trail I can’t wait for spring time to kick in full throttle. 2 Days ago a small snow storm caught us by surprise so I was one of the lucky few to be near a hostel. Kinkora Hostel is one of a kind. You absolutely must stop by if you are in that part of the AT. Bob Peoples is one of the kindest souls that I met that has a true passion for helping out hikers. He only charges $5 for a warm place to stay, shower, laundry and kitchen. While it was snowing outside we got together and started cooking and baking. There was cake, cookies, soups, and I made Jiffy Corn Bread muffins (which were a huge success if I may say so). That is one of my best memories so far on the trail.

Kinkora Hostel

Kinkora Hostel

But, the food experience doesn’t stop there. Coming into Damascus on Good Friday was such a blessing. Not only did us hikers prepare a spectacular meal of burritos for dinner, but the the locals had an amazing play about the life of Jesus in the local park. Everyone talks about Trail Days in Damascus, but they should also be mentioning Good Friday too.

Dinner on Good Friday at The Place

Dinner on Good Friday at The Place

Now, some people have mention that I am having too much fun and that is true. The trail has been one huge adventure so far.  However….. there is always the painful aspect to the trail. Walking 15-20 miles a day has it’s toll on everybody. It is so funny watching people walk around in the morning. We are all like 90 year olds hobbling around due to pain/stiffness in knees and ankles. This starts to go away after an hour of hiking. After 8 hours of hiking my feet are begging me to stop. The thing is all day long I am walking of uneven surfaces with sharp protruding rocks/roots that jab into by foot, it really hurts! At night, I stretch and massage my feet for about 30 minutes and that has improved my recovery dramatically. Don’t get me wrong, the whole soreness thing is way better for all of us since Springer Mountain but it’s still there.

Find Waldo

Find Waldo

This was a beautiful section of the AT. You can see Roan mountain in the top right with the Balds following it. That is 11 miles from where I’m standing to Roan Mountain. There is a hiker in that picture, try and find him. Tip (he is really small).

Meet Chair, he carries around a chair, thus his name.

Meet Chair, he carries around a chair, thus his name.

Chair is a funny guy. he is a day behind me or so according to other hikers. We keep tabs on each other with log books that are found in every shelter. Here is an example:

Shelter log book

Shelter log book

Have no fear, Rugby survived that rough day haha.

Colby, always breaking the rules haha!

Colby, always breaking the rules haha!

One of the few downsides to ‘The Place Hostel’ is no laying on the couches. Every hostel has their own set of rules which are fine.
Alright, for those that couldn’t find the hiker in the previous pic, I have found him for you.

Waldo located

Waldo located

Guys I’m sorry that I’m rushing this blog but the library is closing right now! In town people are always on time limits and schedules that must be kept. On the trail all you have to worry about is walking at the pace that you feel like. It’s super layed back and very relaxing. Almost therapeutic in ways. Well, God bless and I will be back online in a couple weeks hopefully.
Spider

Virginia

Sriracha care package from Alla

Sriracha care package from Alla


Sorry for the long delay since the last post. The thing is that most hostels I come across either have no internet at all or they have the slowest dialup ever. That creates problems for us hikers who are trying to find decent computer access in order to blog. Woods Hole Hostel has satellite internet. So if you really think about it, you are receiving this blog post from space!!
Inside Woods Hole Hostel

Inside Woods Hole Hostel


Hostel Rules

Hostel Rules

Many are wondering what I eat out here so let me give you a little taste of my daily food intake. Keep in mind that it always fluctuates a little in order to avoid food boredom.

Breakfast: 4 cups of oatmeal. I always add powdered milk, protein powder, some kind of green super food powder, instant breakfast carnation, and a couple ounces of olive oil. Then I grab a torilla and smoother it with peanut butter or nutella and down it with a cup of coffee. I think that gives me about 1,500 calories.
2nd breakfast: This is a couple hours later while im on the go and its too early to stop. I usually eat 3 bars; 2 cliff bars and a snickers or something like that.
Lunch: I stop and cook during lunch. This forces me to get a 30 minute break. My lunch tends to consist of whole grain angel hair pasta, I’m done with Ramen Noodles. Sometimes ill make spaghetti with some powdered Italian mushroom sauce and other times I’ll make a soup with chicken soup powder. Both types of meals will get a dose of chopped up garlic and onions and lots of olive oil. (yes, I do carry a clove of garlic and an onion). I also add Wasabi Peas to the meal, curtsey of Egor and Ella. But that’s not all, a few ounces of summer sausage on the side hits the spot.
2nd lunch: This is a couple hours later and tends to be a quick meal with tortillas. Something like tuna on tortilla with a bunch of tobasco sauce and a pieces of dried fruit.
Dinner: I tend to be on the go so there are 2 options; eat some GORP (peanuts with chocolate candy) or simply make a quick pit stop and make a protein shake. 2 packets of oatmeal with powdered milk (Nido is the best), muscle milk, packet of hot coco, and couple ounces of olive oil. This will power me through the last couple hours till supper.
Supper: If I have any energy left I’ll try to cook something with spaghetti with a side of meat and some kind of dried fruits. Honestly, supper tends to be any kind of meal mentioned above with loads of protein.

The funny thing is that a lot of hikers out here talk about my food bag. Apparently I carry one of the biggest bags on the trail haha! And I just found out from Raven that my choice of meals is always a great topic of conversation for other hikers.

So far I’m doing pretty good. We joke around that all of use have developed our hiker legs now, but not hiker feet. The feet are the weakest link for everyone. They get super sore at the end of the day. However, this is getting better. The past few days I’ve been hiking 20 mile days back to back with no problems. That’s telling me that the legs are definitely getting stronger. Speaking of strength, my pullups have decreased to 18 in the mornings! That’s horrible news so Lex brought me some hiking poles. I’m going to try to get my upper body strength back up. I guess morning pushups and pullups alone was not enough. When I hike with the poles I put as much force down into them as possible to work out my arms. I feel like some four legged creature now hiking the AT.
Lex hiked with me from Atkins for 13 miles. It was an epic hike through thunder, lightning and sideways rain. I gave him the trail name El Tigre because I knew the people at home would approve (Nina, Sara, and Alla to name a few). Ask him for the details on the trip, it was fun! Luckily El Tigre and I were below the large mountain that I was supposed to climb that day. This is what happened on top of Chessnut Mountain:

Chessnut Ridge Shelter Log

Chessnut Ridge Shelter Log

Some funny things that happened so far:
I was sleeping in Roan Mountain shelter next to Columbus. The next morning he told me:
“Dude, you talk in your sleep right?”
Me: “Really? What did I say?”
Columbus: “Well, I was awake at 2 in the morning and you said one word ‘Spiderman!’.”
We laughed and laughed all morning about that. You know for sure that your trail name fits when you speak your trail name in dreams hahah!
I told Columbus it was a good thing it was my name vs his or that would have been straight up creepy.

The other day I met Stretch for the first time. Stretch told us that he was walking down the side of the road sweating and dying from the blazing sun when his luck changed. He came across a Twinki in its wrapper. And it gets better, he also found a can of Dr. Pepper too! Unfortunately both were cooking in the extreme heat of the day so he did what anyone of us would do, Stretch ate the Twinki and drank the coke haha! Funny guy!

I came across this school from 1870. It was super neat to see how schools were built back in the day. It totally reminded me of little house on the prairie.

Check out the teeter totter!

Check out the teeter totter!

Best trail magic ever! Loads of food and supplies

Best trail magic ever! Loads of food and supplies

Rules at the School

Rules at the School

One of the coolest things I’ve come across so far were the ponies at Grayson Highlands. These guys move around the hillsides and are free to roam where they please. Us hikers pride ourselves in our pony selfies.
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Baby ponies!!! Life is now complete.

Baby ponies!!! Life is now complete.


Pony artwork= Fail

Pony artwork= Fail


Guys if you have an opportunity to go camping for a couple days, go to the Grayson Highlands! You will have no regrets, only sweet dreams about ponies. Oh wait, I totally forgot to mention that they bite and kick if they don’t like you. Rugby came up to one of the ponies and the thing turned around and kicked him! He was so mad; “I flew all the way from Britian to see ponies and all I get is disrespect!” hahaha good stuff.

People talk about the Virginia Blues. A lot of people drop out in Virginia because they get bored with the trail. I just don’t understand that. It has been one awesome state so far! Here are some random photos I took in Virginia:
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Actually, this was in NC but it turned out great so I wanted to share it.

Actually, this was in NC but it turned out great so I wanted to share it.

This was my favorite privy so far:

The most epic throne ever! Yes, this is an actual bathroom.

The most epic throne ever! Yes, this is an actual bathroom.

That’s about it for now. The next post will be in 2-3 weeks until I reach a larger town with a library or something. Take care everyone!
Spidy

Wins & Norms- On The AT

I am sitting at a laundry mat killing time by reading about other people’s hiking experiences. It’s funny how that appeals to me more than the current world news or Hollywood drama. A simple life is a pleasant one. This blogger nailed it with their post on AT living and I want to share her view point. Enjoy!

The AT Experience

It is amazing how when you are on the trail your life takes on a different set of priorities. The small “wins” in life are things you would normally take for granted. You end up doing things on a weekly basis that were never a part of your life before but you now rely on. You are living completely separate from most of the comforts you knew, but you quickly adapt and your life now feels normal, memories of your old life and they way things were done retreating into the distance.

Wins:
1. Free laundry soap at the laundry mat, you use it even though you have allergic reactions to some detergents
2. All you can eat, anything. (If there is an eating contest you want to be around for Rooster to attempt it!)
3. A half used bottle of hotel shampoo in the hostel shower. You don’t want…

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How To Send Me Food And Presents

Hello everyone! Some more people have been asking to send care packages and don’t know where to. What I’m going to do from now on is post a few locations every so often so that if you get a sudden urge to send me goodies, you will know exactly where to.  I will be at Waynesboro in about 10 days. So, please send out the package no later than 5/9/14 just to be safe. Label looks like this:

Ed Goretoy
C/O General Delivery
200 S. Wayne Ave
Waynesboro, VA
Plz hold for AT Hiker
ETA 5/17/14

The other place is at Harpers Ferry, this is like the half way point.  I will be making a pit stop at the ATC. I should be there at the end of the month. Please ship out package no later than 5/15/14. The label looks like this:

If you are sending via USPS:

Ed Goretoy
C/O Appalachian Trail Conservancy HQ
Please hold for AT hiker

 If you want to send via FedEx or UPS, that’s fine becuase this is not a post office:

Ed Goretoy
C/O Appalachian Trail Conservancy HQ
Please hold for AT hiker

Thank you for your support!

Still in Virginia…

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I finally made it to Waynesboro. This is a town that I should have passed through 4 days ago but something came up. I got sick. Yep, you heard right. Spidy got the bug. Every superhero has a weakness and mine happened to be a mysterious super stomach bug.
So this is what happened. It started as another typical day hiking 18 miles across some steep terrain. There is still no full shade from the trees in the mountains by the way. The buds are only now just starting to grow into leaves. So the sun is having a field day roasting us. It was 85* in the little shade that was out there for sure, one of the hikers had a thermometer. I was so happy not to have died on the trail of “Fried to a Crisp Syndrome” (its a real medical condition on the AT). So we finally made it to Bryant Ridge Shelter. This is a sweet shack that is 2 stories and holds 20 hikers. One of the biggest shelters on the AT and 4 of us had it all to our selves.

Bryant Ridge Shelter

Bryant Ridge Shelter


After cooking a legit dinner of pasta alfredo and stuff, I called it a night. My stomach woke me up at 10 and told me to run to the privy quick! I made it in the nick of time and threw up all my food. My initial thoughts were “Well that sucks. Those are calories that I really need.” Haha! The AT has wired my brain to think differently out here. Well after that ordeal I went back to bed only to wake up 30 min later and repeat the vomiting. This happened over and over. Every 30 min like clock work my stomach was heaving. I was so miserable and tired of running to the privy by 2 am that I simply slept on the edge of the porch. That way I could roll over, throw up over the side, and roll back into bed. Have no fear, it all came to an end at 4 am. That is definelty going in the top 10 most miserable things that ever happened to me. I couldn’t eat anything for the next 3 days and only started eating a little food on day 4. By day 8 I was finally 100% normal. However, it all came at a cost. I lost 60 miles worth of hiking and 10 lbs of body weight that I really need. Remember me how I used to be, not how scrawny hiker I have become.
Anyway, enough with my pity party about weight loss. It was inevitable. Here are some pics of the AT:
Eastern Continental Divide

Eastern Continental Divide


The Continental Divide is an imaginary line that runs through the Appalachian Mountains. On one side of the line all the rivers flow down to the Gulf of Mexico. On the other side they all flow to the Atlantic Ocean.

Civil War wall

Civil War wall


This is a wall on Humpback Mountain that is the remnant of the Civil War era. I enjoyed standing there in front of that wall contemplating the historical significance that it holds.

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This is one of the many millions of obstacles mother nature has placed on the trail for unsuspecting hikers. Many a times I have jammed by heel on one of those rocks when they were covered in leaves. Have no fear, I was able to quickly detect the danger and expertly maneuver around it without an incident.

The Confession Journal

The Confession Journal


As you well know, every shelter has a journal. Well, there is a shelter called the ‘Priest Shelter’. So all the hikers write a confession in the journal about doing something wrong on the trail. One person confessed to spitting out her gum into the woods instead of packing it out. Gasp! What of the little critters? You are probably wondering what my confession was. It went something like this: “I confess to sleeping with my food bag last night. I also confess to eating a ton of it at 2 am, i simply couldn’t resist the temptation. Sorry.”

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Yesterday we had the most intense thunderstorms come through our area. The heavens opened up and buckets of water came down all night long. What used to be the AT turned into raging streams as you can see. I was walking through knee deep water in some areas. But my area wasn’t too bad. Some people had to wade through waist deep water! -on a trail that is normally dry.

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I still try and get a little bouldering action whenever possible. There is another climber I met ‘Sprout’, he does the same thing. We simply spot a rock, drop our packs, climb around, then hike on as happy as can be.

A 2 person shelter aka "The Love Shack"

A 2 person shelter aka “The Love Shack”

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McAfee Knob

McAfee Knob


This was one of my major goals to get to. Simply a fantastic place with phenomenal views. I got in trouble for this pic by mom. Sorry mom. I told her that I was Spiderman and I knew what I was doing. She still scolded me.

Well that’s about it for now. I’ll try to post when I get to Harpers Ferry. In the mean time I will be hiking through the Shenandoah National Park looking for a black bear. In fact, word on the trail is that these bears are super friendly and will come up to you fearlessly. You can pet them, take awesome selfies, have a friendly wrestling match… this is a magical place. If that is all myth and there are no bears to be found, I’m going to plan B. That is where I cover myself with honey and hike the AT. Wish me luck!
Spider