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Headed into the Smoky Mountains

By March 30, 2013herb's eye view

Howdy folks!

Wow. This walk has been a doozy so far. The climbs are getting easier and the down-hills have been less painful. My biggest foe insofar has been the weather. I knew I’d be walking into some crazy stuff, but some of these days have been ridiculous! Half of my walking days have been in rain, ice, or snow and every night I’ve spent in the hills have been below freezing.

The worst yet was when I was climbing through the Wayah and Wesser Balds in North Carolina.

I left Franklin with a loaded pack and spent the first day hiking in the rain that never quit. I got to camp and set up my tent in the storm. Somewhere along the night, the temperature dropped and the rain turned to snow. I woke up with 5-inches of powder surrounding my tent. I packed my tent up with 3-lbs. of ice and set onto walking in the snow storm.

I got to a road and briefly thought about calling for a ride back into town but decided to press on and started climbing up to Wesser Bald. The white blazes that guide me along the Appalachian Trail were not apparent to me in this white storm and I spent 1.5 miles climbing a hill paranoid that I was headed astray. I finally picked up on the blazes and felt relieved as I trudged on to the next mountain shelter.

I arrived at the shelter to find that it was empty – what happened to the half-dozen hikers I left with earlier?

I cooked my supper alone. As I lifted the lid to my cook-pot to stir the contents, I noticed that the condensation on the lid was freezing and turning to ice almost instantaneously. It was so cold that night that I didn’t realize the handle of my cook-pot was burning my fingers until I saw the welts on them.

This was when I realized what most likely happened to all I those hikers I thought were ahead if me – they got off of this mountain at that road I passed by because who in their right mind would be on it in this storm? My dumb-ass, that’s who.

But, that was last week and I’m defrosted and relaxing for the day at the Fontana Dam before I climb up into the Smoky Mountains tomorrow morning and spend a good week traveling through this great National park of ours.

Only bad think about this is carrying a week’s worth of food up this hill – ugh! I could stop and resupply halfway through, but I don’t think I wanna leave the park until I’m on the other side.

Gonna be pretty sweet!.

Miss you all!





  • Emily Harrison says:

    Love you Herb, You are a ROCK STAR! Keep on truckin, we can’t wait to hear how your journey/adventure unfolds. Much Love! E & B

  • Hi Two Sticks, I hiked the trail last year. My trail name is Shanti. Shannon Holliday posted your blog on FB and tagged me so I’d see it. I feel for you up there in the rain and cold. I must admit that we got VERY lucky with weather last year. When I hiked the Smokies, the floor of the forest was covered with little wild flowers and it was hot during the day. There were some cold and rainy days, no snow for me either. I would say, go ahead and take a break during the Smokies. It’s so hard to carry a heavy pack because of a weeks worth of food. Otherwise, look ahead to those sunny days, it will all be worth it. We DID have the drought and the hottest summer on record last year and that was tough, especially when we could not find water and had to rely on trail angels. Still, it is a journey of a lifetime! Good luck!

    • Herb says:

      Thanks Shanti. I walked out of the Smokies and immediately into gorgeous, sunny, spring weather. It was weird. Rest assured, the Smokies are now currently owned by me, Two-Sticks. My time in that park was crazy wonderful. I’ll never forget it.

  • Heather says:

    Days that the corporate man gets me down- or when my morning trudge in the city seems to long or cold I find comfort in thinking of you, dear Herb. Your brave perseverance gives me hope on those long and lonely days. You may be far away in miles but not in my thoughts. I write this on the bus trekking through the city and who should randomly shuffle through on my afternoon playlist? The avetts of course.

    Just as it should be. Safe travels. I love living vicariously!

  • Polly Ringler says:

    Watch for weird weather at Max Patch! Miss you lots! Wishing you sunny skies, music in your ears, and a slight breeze on your back!

  • Matthew Mendenhall says:

    Hope your travels have been safe so far! Can’t wait to hear all about it over a game of backyard croquet this summer! Be safe fella!

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