Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike 2016
I told myself that I could, so that is what I did.
Rambo and I started on March 7th, 2016 from Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia and Started hiking north toward North Carolina. We entered the Smoky's at Fontana Dam where we got blasted with a foot of snow at elevation. There are no pictures from the highest point on the trail, Clingman's Dome because we hiked there in the dark for sunrise but the summit was shrouded in fog. The trail in the Smoky's, crosses back and forth over the NC, TN line and then spends some time in TN before finally coming out just near Damascus, Virginia.
The trail from Damascus follows the Virginia Creeper Trail for a few miles and then shoots back up into the mountains. The next section of the trail is called the Grayson Highlands. This is where you can find "wild" ponies and amazing views from high balds in southern Virginia. The trail near Roanoke, VA is a very high use area that contains three very memorable locations. Dragon's tooth; A rock spire jutting up from a rocky ridge-line that was scary to climb up, but even scarier climbing down! MacAfee Knob; An overhang which is the most photographed place on the entire A.T. Tinker Cliffs; The views from here are great but the hiking along the edge of these sheer cliffs is an experience you must have in person. We experienced 21 straight days of rain through Shenandoah National Park. This is also the area of trail where there was a major unplanned forest fire. West Virginia and Maryland were short and sweet and lead us to the actual half way point of the trail, where we go to take on the half gallon challenge which is eating half a gallon of ice-cream as quickly as possible. Pennsylvania is actually devoid of water and full of rocks and rattlesnakes like everyone says. However, the trail-magic that the locals provide definitely make up for the sub-par hiking conditions! I saw my first two wild bears leaving PA and then saw the next three right after entering New Jersey!
New York was an amazing state for hiking with very diverse terrain and great opportunities for cowboy camping! I had a frame blow-out and ghetto-rigging incident. Granite Gear was definitely clutch when they sent my frame to our very next resupply point! The water supplies were a little questionable at times with a large beaver population around some parts of the trail but I still never got any water-borne illnesses! This part of the trail was filled with a lot of big-mile days as well as some good R&R days as well. We got to camp at the house next to Bill Bryson's old home near Dartmouth. My mom and dad grabbed us off the trail and brought us to the Ben & Jerry's factory in Vermont for some much needed caloric therapy. The beginning of the White Mountains don't seem daunting, but are definitely fun and challenging hiking! Sunsets above tree-line are bomb!
Waiting on work-for-stay is terrible and Mount Washington is bad-ass with crazy weather! The trail toward the end of New Hampshire is absolutely beautiful and rugged. Josh was not bear-proof inside of the bear-box. The hardest part of the trail was one of the most fun parts of the trail. I fell off two cliffs in thirty minutes. The lakes in Maine are abundant and fun, but full of leeches! Shoelace picked us up from Monson, Maine and showered us with cold cuts, beer, lobster and showed us how to have a good time like 'Maine'iacs! The 100-Mile Wilderness was not as remote as promised, but it was a great lead-up to Katahdin!
Katahdin, Katahdin, Katahdin! The climb up is great, the table-lands were great, the summit was great, and it was great looking at the mountain from the side of a lake after shoving a lobster po-boy into my face! The hike comes to an end, August 7th, 2016.
Thanks again for joining me in this ridiculous escapade up the Appalachian Trail!