20 Failures Equals 1 Success

Today I failed 20 times. 

I set daily goals on the AT. How far I intend to hike, where to stop for lunch, basic stuff.

I have a personal goal to try to climb every hill and mountain WITHOUT STOPPING.  Sometimes I can.  Some days are better than others.

Today started with a lofty goal: hike 20 miles.  The trail had a long 5 mile climb, as well as several smaller climbs.

I failed.  I was tired this morning, and my energy was low.  I stopped on a climb.  Then again.  A drink of water.  Failure after failure…

Did I quit? No! At the end of the day, I completed my first goal.  I hiked 20 miles.  I can do better.  I will do better.  But… Today was a SUCCESS!


Don’t get concerned with small failures.  Stay focused and do your best.  Persist, keep your eyes on the goal, and you too can succeed!

Hot Springs

Day 28 Total miles: 280.

The past few days have been busy!

We were lucky. On Day 22, we worked hard to get to Gatlinburg, for resupply, a half day off, and a good night’s sleep at the Grand Prize Prix Motel.

The weather turned, and rain became snow.  2 wet and cold hikers were found and saved on Clingman’s Dome.  We stayed there an extra night as all who could came down from the mountain and temps about 10 degrees… 6 inches of snow fell that afternoon.

The next 4 days were awesome.  My wife was meeting me in Hot Springs if I could make it by Saturday, 4 days away.  That meant hiking 16, 18, 20, and 13 miles to make up the lost day for snow. 

Three of us went for it.  The weather was perfect, hiking in snow the first day. Then it started to melt, so we hiked in snow, ice, and mud for much of 2 days.  But… We made it!

Hot Springs is a wonderful small town that caters to hikers.  Walking into town, I was greeted by several hiker friends.  Very cool!

I met my wife at our hotel and had a grand reunion.  She was immersed in MY environment, meeting many friends and enjoying our reunion.  One highlight of our weekend was the hot springs; yes, they exist! 15 private hot tubs right on a river… Just what my poor body needed!

Back on the trail today, another 10 miles.  Perfect!








Day 22 Gatlinburg.  Zero day.  Total miles: 206.8.

Words of the day: snow, cold, luck. 

We were lucky.  Yesterday, we worked hard to get to Gatlinburg, for resupply, a half day off, and a good night’s sleep at the Grand Prize Prix Motel. 

The weather turned, and rain became snow.  2 wet and cold hikers were found and saved on Clingman’s Dome.  We stayed here an extra night as all who could came down from the mountain and temperature about 10 degrees… 6 inches of snow fell this afternoon. 

Tomorrow: 60 and clear, but we don’t know if the park road will be closed…


Clingman's Dome

Let’s add Flexible to the word list!


Day 17 and taking a zero, so time to finally add some pictures.

4/10/2014. Miles 150.7.


At the beginning. Springer Mountain.


Shoe tree in Neal Gap.


Rainy day path…


Cold! Frost on the sign…


Trail magic and Miss Janet


German friends, German restaurant in Helen, GA


Curious George at the border


Hmmm… are we dinner?


Smokies from a fire tower


Friends Hawk’s Bill, Bear Bag, Cake, and Isn’t Black

Great fun! After the day is done, it’s all about the people we meet and the good times together.



Day 15 Wayah Bald Shelter to A. Rufus Morgan Shelter
4/8/14 Today’s miles: 15.5! Total miles: 131.4.

Pretty standard day today, so I’m going to talk about a subject that my grandkids will like.


Yes, we poop in the woods! So popular is the topic that a British woman wrote an entire book on the subject.  I will not be that lengthy…

The good news is that every 5-10 miles, there is a shelter.  Near the shelter is always a source of water, and, you guessed it, a toilet.  Not like yours, though, ours is called a privy. Think of anold fashioned out house, or port-a-john, without chemicals.  Set away from the shelter, this small building sometimes has a roof, has one hole, which has a toilet seat.  There is a little privacy, but not much, and it is used by both sexes.


I was an early bird on Day 3, so I sat on a seat with ice! Wow! There is some science to these: the poop stays above ground, and after going, you add a handful of leaves to stimulate composting, just like in a garden.
(By the way, you bring your own toilet paper and sanitizer!)

What happens if you are not near a privy? Find a quiet spot. Dig a 4 inch hole. Drop your pants, and good luck! Fill the hole, and you are on your way.


Rain and Rain Gear

Day 14 Winding Stair Gap to Wayah Bald Shelter

Monday, 4/7/14 Today’s miles: 11. Total miles: 120.8.

Yesterday, I took a “nero” or near zero day. I walked 3.8 miles and caught a hotel shuttle at 9:30 into Franklin, NC.  Stayed with 2 guys this time, cost $18 each! Cool day, so did nothing but go to dinner with 5 others and enjoy the good company.

Today was forecast rain, and yes it did, all day and into the evening.  40’s, sleet, mud and wet feet!

This is my raingear: raincoat with hood, waterproof mittens, and a waterproof kilt.  The kilt is great keeping the pants dry to the knees without sweating.

Dinner.  For most of us, this is the only prepared (and hot) meal of the day.  My routine is to arrive at the shelter, find a spot and set up my hammock, and then go get water.  Today, I had to walk 1/4 mile to a stream, irritatingly long at the end of the day.  I filter 2 quarts of water for tomorrow’s hike, and enough water to cook my dinner.

Tonight’s meal was quick cooking rice and beans, with some summer sausage cut up.  Tasted great, and was probably 600-700 calories.  We try to make meals that you can boil water and have the meal steep for 10 minutes, then eat.  Rinse with a little water, finger for a sponge, and drink so the critters don’t come around!

No campfire because of the rain, so we brush our teeth away from camp, again not to attract critters. Then to bed to get warm, write a post, and read until about 9. That’s my exciting day!


100 Miles!

Day 12: Carter Gap Shelter to Rock Gap Shelter

Today’s miles: 12.1. Total miles: 106.

32 degrees waking up this morning.  Think about getting out of bed and getting dressed! You move fast!

Today’s highlights were the 500 foot, very vertical climb up Albert Mountain, and to reach the 100 mile point at the fire tower on top.  It was strenuous for me, but I felt great to have done it, and the afternoon flew by from there.



The evenings are special on the trail.  I arrived at the shelter at 4pm. I like to take care of business first, which for me is to set up my hammock, tarp, change into my sleep clothing, get water for dinner, and make sure that my clothes are ready for the morning.

Then up to the shelter with my food bag, cook set, and water. We usually eat together at a picnic table or sitting on logs around a fire pit.  While eating until dark, we tell stories about the day, and get to know each other.

I’m sure that most of my memories of the AT will come from these fireside sessions, and the interesting people I meet.  Tonight was Cloud Dancer, who did the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) last year, and wants to do the AT in 90 days!

Tomorrow is a “Nero” or Near Zero day.  We will hike 3 miles and catch a ride into Franklin, NC to buy food for the next 4 days, do laundry, have a couple of good meals, and a night in a bed.


Day 11, Muskrat Creek Shelter to Carter Gap Shelter

Day 11, Muskrat Creek Shelter to Carter Gap Shelter

Today’s miles: 12.5. Total miles: 93.9.

Highlight of the day was the climb to 5500′,
Standing Indian Mountain.  The climb was less rigorous, and a pretty easy day.  There was a threat of rain and thunderstorms; just showers today, but windy as I write this…

Tomorrow is expected to be more demanding, so hang on!


Day 10 Dick’s Creek Gap to Muskrat Creek Shelter

Day 10 Dick’s Creek Gap to Muskrat Creek Shelter

Today’s miles: 11.8. Total miles: 81.4.

Back on the AT after a zero day, I was recharged. The day off was relaxing. I ate healthy meals and just enjoyed reading and being lazy.  But I was ready to go. 

The day was near perfect, 80 degrees and sunny, with no wind. The hiking was not bad until crossing into NC.  YES! I made it to NC around 2 pm today.  One down, and thirteen to go…

Then a crazy hard climb up Courthouse Bald of 800′ at the end of the day was the hardest to date.  I am still hiking in slow motion on these tough climbs; my goal is to just keep moving, one baby step at a time. 

Nice chatting around the campfire.  A couple is hiking the AT for their 30th anniversary.  Also some stories about Miss Janet, who follows the hiking group to support them.

Tonight I decided to sleep under the stars.  Normally, I hang my hammock, and then cover it with a tarp, to keep out the wind and rain.  Tonight is calm and clear, so the view is unobstructed and beautiful. 

Tomorrow afternoon, rain and possible thunderstorms are predicted.  Rain is fine and expected.  The storms are not any fun, and I hope they miss us.


Day 8 Sassafras to Dick’s Creek Gap

Today’s miles: 6.3. Total miles: 69.6.

Beautiful night, no clouds, and a beautiful day forecast ahead.  6am, we woke to a 30 minute rain shower! An hour later, clear skies…

One steep climb first thing in the morning, then on to Dick’s Creek Gap, and hitchhiking into Hiawassee.  Only had to wait 5 minutes, and got a ride in a Mercedes! Rabbit and I got left at our motels,  for well deserved zero days. 

Many thru hikers recommend taking a day off every 7-10 days,  so I will plan on that.  We are supposed to listen to our bodies, especially if they start hurting. 

I had a good time doing nothing, reading, and catching up with phone calls.  Great to recharge the mind and soul, as well as the body. 

Tomorrow, it’s back to the trail, and 8.9 miles to the NC border! This is usually seen as the first big milestone. 

Off to a second night in bed.  Ahhhhhhh…