Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike, North Carolina

Written by Afterburner. Added on April 11, 2006.

This travelogue was written while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Every once in a while Afterburner had a chance to let us all know about what he had seen and where he was. You might want to start reading from the beginning of the log.

Had a great down day at NOC, went white water kayaking in the afternoon and just kind of relaxed rest of day. The climb out of there was hard, 6.5 miles up to the top of the mountain. Spent the next two days hiking to Fontana Dam Village, in North Carolina. Took a down day there also. Caveman showed up the next day, said he only stayed at trail magic for three hours eating. Headed out the next day with Irish, we met up with Handlebar at lunch time and hiked together for a while. Jutebox caught us just before we arrived at the shelter at Russell Field.

The next day, I headedout early, hiked 17.3 miles to Double Spring Gap shelter. I arrived at 3:30 and decided to take a side hike up LeConte Mountain to see the hiker’s lodge at the top. The trail was covered with snow and ice, so it took me longer to get there than I thought. Got to the top at 6:30 and decided I wasn’t going down the same trail, as I almost went over the edge twice coming up. They fed me supper at the lodge and gave me a cabin to sleep in. The next morning, after breakfast, I headed down the front side of the mountain 5 miles to the road. Hitched a ride to Newfound Gap and hiked 4.5 miles up to where I was yesterday. Lost half a day, but the trip was worth it. The only way to get to the lodge is hike, they resupply each week by llama trains. Met up with Don Quixote, a hiker from England at the shelter. Later John, a park trail runner showed up and told us that there was a bad storm coming tomorrow and not to camp on the mountain tops, stay at the gaps.

In the morning, I did a bonzi 24 mile hike to Standing Bear Farm Hostel, arrived at 6:35 PM. Cooked a pizza for supper and then went to bed. Planned a down day the next day, good thing as it poured all night and all the next day. It was quite the place, nothing fancy, but it had everything a hiked could ask for, including a resupply storeroom, which was on the honor system to pay. Irish and Chillout headed out in the morning rain. Later in the day, Jutebox, Dinosaur, Hellbender, Handlebar, Don Quixote and Supersize arrived. We learned that Pheonix—an AT legend—had passed away at a shelter south of us. He had thru hiked the entire AT many times, and although we were saddened about his passing, we rejoiced in the knowledge that he died where he loved and doing what he loved, hiking the AT.

Headed out the next day with Handlebar, Don Quixote, Morningfit and Outbreak to hike 20 miles to Walnut Mountain Shelter. I arrived about 5 minutes before everyone and found three men from Kentucky at the shelter. They also had two pit bulls with them. Everyone was leary of staying in the shelter and set up tents. I stayed in the shelter and talked to them and thet turned out to be some of the nicest people you could ever meet. It just goes to show you that apperances can be deceiving.

Next day we all hiked to Hot Springs. I stopped at Deer Park Shelter for lunch and found a Boy Scout Troop from Florida there, so as a leader myself, I had lunch with them and talked a while before heading on. Arrived at Hot Springs around 2:00PM, got a room and had a much needed shower. We all headed up to the Mineral Springs at 5:00, there were 11 of us in the hot tub—crowded, but felt so good. Today, I went back for a one hour deep tissue massage; now I feel like a new man. We are all going back to the tubs again tonight. This town is very small and with all the thru hikers here, I think the population just doubled.

I have hiked a total of 271 miles over 41 different mountains, but they are the most rugged and spectacular mountains this country has to offer. Most of them are covered with large groves of giant rhododendrons and mountain laurel with tunnels cut through them for hiking. I also saw some holly trees that were 60 feet tall, covered with bright red berries.

All in all, it has been quite an experience, and I have met a wide range of individuals from all walks of life. You form a bond with each other and you are always concerned when someone doesn’t show up when they should. When they do arrive, everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief.

Until next time, I will keep on walking,
Harry—trail name Afterburner

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike