Day 22 leaving the Smokies to Standing Bear Mile 241

I slept really well. we were all telling jokes till I dropped off.
I was up fairly early as it was going to be a big day for me as my target  was 16 miles

I  put on a brew and packed up as the water boiled
I said my good-byes and hoisted up my pack and set off.
Dan had said that it was mainly down today. but  then Dan tells fibs .

I began my first climb, and all felt good even though it went on and on but  again the views were amazing, so I frequently stopped to admire the views wow. I pushed on until  I came to a side trail. which I had been advised to take. it was narrow and had warnings on. But wow again the views were amazing.

But as I was on a mission so  pushed on until I came to my first descent of the day and it was steep, oh so steep I had to be careful, so I did not hurt my knees.  The decent went on for at least an hour , it was then followed by another  steep  climb. It was so  steep that I was soon huffing and puffing. Bloody hell, it took me 40 mins to summit before it  levelled and  then  headed straight  down. Luckily the decent  was smooth so I began go get a good rhythm , the next minute I was lying in the dirt staring at the sky . Bollocks I said to myself getting slowly to my feet and  dusting  myself down. Thankfully, I was not hurt. ,just bloody annoyed

I set off again a little more slowly  , soon I came to the next shelter, but this was not my target so hiked on. I was still going down, now the trail became crappy with loose rock and  roots  that  again wanted to throw you to the ground and so  my pace  slowed. It  was so crappy  that it seemed to  take  ages   to  navigate  it. At last it levelled  before  the  next climb began and climb it did

I was so pleased when  my  watch  pinged  meaning that it was time  for  lunch, but I decided to wait until I  got to the top

AT last the Fire Tower came into view and with  a nice spot to stop. I put dropped my pack, put down my Tyvek then sat down  took off my shoes and socks and relaxed.

I checked my map.  wow I had covered 11miles and if was only 12.30 meaning it was only 5 miles to the shelter whoop. I and it was downhill yeah
I packed up my stuff  and set  off down the  trail, I  was soon into the zone  and was cruising . Ping went my watch;  great I thought another hour and I should be there. I began to  descend , spiralling  slowly down. yes, I can see  the shelter  and its  only 3pm. what a day and 16 miles.

I walked up to the Shelter it was empty. This shelter had the fence on the front  to keep out bears. Once all the shelters in the Smokies  had  these  fences ,  but  were later removed as stupid  people fed the bears through the fences

I went and got water and had just made tea when my friends appeared high above me.

“SNAIL we are going on”  They shouted
“Really ,,,,,,,Fuck” I said.

I quickly packed up and set off after them, but they were fast and so I was almost  running to keep up.

They had decided to  head to Standing Bear Hostel. that was another 5 miles away
I was doing okay as we followed the river heading towards the road.

As we headed down, we came to the permit box. that marked the exit of the smokies  Hurray we are out of the Smokies. We all posed  around  the Permit box  for  photos before  continuing on

There  was a short road walk but as I  made my way along,  I began to run out of steam  and  my pace slowed  and I began to swear a lot . I  was only encouraged on by the  thought of cold beer . The last mile was a  killer and  so I almost  crawled into Standing Bear Hostel.
Luckily  there was one  bunk spot left for  me , I  found  it and dropped my  pack as  I was done.

After I got my breath back I grabbed beer ordered a pizza and my sense of humour returned  and I  began to relax.
I joined  the gang around the  firepit  and  Catching up  gossip  and laughing until my eyes began to struggle to stay open



Start 223
Finish 241
mileage 18 miles
Remaining 1949 Miles


Day 21 From Ice water Shelter to Tri corner shelter mile 221 (The Smokies day 4 )

That was a great night slept well. Except the platform sloped so we all rolled towards each other.
We were all greated with an amazing sun rise.
I let down my pad .visited the privy and lowered my food bag.
I packed up and took my pack outside.
I made tea then made an Instant last. I followed that with a hot chocolate then I was ready to go.
I hoisted my pack then set off.
It was Down for a while then it began to climb and the the views were amazing so I stopped many times to take photos . then back to climbing. But this time I was walking on the ridge with amazing views both sides. Wow just amazing. Then I came to a side trail that was recommended so I followed it. Wow even more amazing views.
I then rejoined the trail and back to climbing.
I had planned to walk for three hours but once my time was up I couldn’t find anywhere to stop so ended up walking for another 30 mins
At last a spot I dropped my pack a f took out my Tyvek and took a 40 min break.
I was still resting when the train came past. Later guys.
Eventually it was time to go so I packed up and set off . I hadn’t gone far when I came across the guys resting. Later guys I said and set off I had completed just over 7 miles and I had just over 5 more to go as I was only going to do 12 .miles today then a sixteen tomorrow.
I pushed on I had 3 more big ups to do . so I pushed on counting down the hills I probably have miss calculated but I was ball park.
At last my last hill and yes this way to the shelter. Whoop whoop it was empty was I first here or had the others moved on.
Tri corner shelter 223.0
I dropped my pack and went and sat in the sun
The crew slowly began to arrive a d I joined the. To cook and eat.
Then we all stripped off and did washing. Laying our clothes out to dry in the sunshine .
Only 12 but I felt that it was a hard day. 16 tomorrow
Night l

Day 20 Silers Bald shelter to Ice water Shelter Mile 210.4 (Smokies Day 3 )

I had just gotten I to bed when squirrel arrived  and decide to get  the fire going in the shelter which was great as it took the chill off as it was cold

Several other hiker  had  decided to  head  to  Climans knob to see the sun set early in the morning so  had  decided  to sleep in their cloths  and  sport out  their  gear  so  they wouldn’t wake  the  rest of  us when they  left   early.

at 3 am i thought we were being stampeded by  elephants  as the early morning hikers were making so much  noise  and  their  headlamps  flashed around  the shelter  as if  looking  for  escaped prisoners
So  much  for  the silent getaway !!
I finally woke at 7 and was amazed to  see only  1 other hiker and myself remained.
I quickly got out of bed, deflated my pad before heading into the woods.
I  fired up my stove and put on a brew, as it came to the boil I stored my bag and pad and brought my pack outside.
I was enjoying  my tea when a deer strolled  straight through camp  then  stopped  to eat grass taking no notice of  me
I enjoyed my tea then decided to have an I instant  oats in the hope it may give me more energy. Once eaten I hoisted my pack and set off down the trail. It was an awful trail littered with  rocks and  roots and  steep , No way could I have followed the trail in the dark with the other Hikers to see the sunrise.
I pushed on and on arriving at the other shelter at 9 am, I was pleased to see several familiar faces  of  Tarzan, Tank, Big Red, Magic and Whitey.
I paused  to  chat awhile  saying about  the  mass  exodus  of  hikers  early  in the morning, They all laughed as it had happened at this shelter too
Later guys I  said  and  headed out  to  the trail

This part of  the trail was lovely, it passed through  lovely forests  and so  the  tread  was pine straw   and with  the sun heat, the pine aroma was gorgeous.
I was heading for the Fire Tower at Climans knob which was almost 2hrs away  but  the sun was baking  and the trail steep

When my watch  informed me 2 hrs were up i decided to  stop for a break , I was enjoying the sun  when Tarzan and Whitey came by
“Are  you going to the Tower” Snail they said
“I’m not sure ” I replied
“definitely worth a visit Snail ” they both replied
Bloody he’ll, I thought and pushed on, I hadn’t  planned to  go  there  but  as it was recommended
I soon came to a sign post  pointing the way and I am  so glad that i I did as it  really was worth the visit.

As i approached  the tower  it was very  busy  with  many  day  visitors  of all shapes and  colours .I climbed to the top which also  was very busy with tourists but the views from the top  were amazing. I stayed  for about 15 minutes   before  returning to the trail as  I had miles to crush
I pounded miles all afternoon  spending most of the afternoon decending  but dreading the final up. At 2pm  I decided to stop for lunch and  to rest my feet
My next target was  XXXX gap
It seemed to take ages to get there. But wow what a view when I got there.
As i walked And there was preacher and two female hikers giving trail magic . one was Long bird and the other Crispy
I had a toasted cheese sandwich served in tomatoes soup and it was oh so good.
I then drained a beer and then Creature  passed me another.
I was just about to  leave when crispy insisted I take another beer  and  would i also like one to pack out ?

Why  thanks  I said  and  soon drained another before  stuffing the  last can into my pack  I thanked them both again ,before hoisting up my pack  and  heading out .
It  was a fairly steep  climb and  I  kept meeting numerous  day trippers coming  down
It was still a gorgeous day  as I  climbed and climbed  some  times I stopped to  chat  to  the day  trippers  other times  I just  pushed on  At  last I was at  the top and  thankfully the trail leveled  out    .
at last I reached the shelter , it was fairly  busy  but  there was space . so  I grabbed a spot  before heading out front to  relax  in the afternoon sun
I drained my  beer  then began to cook supper
I was busy cooking when Dan & Beth arrived.  they  joined me  in the sun
During the conversation I said I have been carrying these gloves that i   picked up all day! To my amazement  BEth said  I love you so much  snail  THEY ARE MINE !!
how  spooky and amazing
So now getting ready for bed .

Start 194.7
Finish 210.4
mileage 15.7 miles

Day 19 Russel Fields Shelter to Silers Bald Shelter Mile 195 Great Smoky Mountains (Day 2)

I slept really well but it was freezing cold and the wind howled. I stayed in my bag as long as I could until I really needed a pee, reluntanly headed into the woods.

Once back at the shelter I made a brew and packed up but I then needed  another brew.
I was wearing three layers and my leggings as I hoisted my pack and set of down the trail and into the fierce wind . Once across the other side of the mountain I  was sheltered from the howeling wind  and soon warmed up but didn’t want to stop.
I  began to  climb until I was melting so had to stop to remove my hat, raincoat and shirt. The morning  trail was the typical rollar coasterof of ups and downs. But  for once  i was greated with  spectacular views .  As the day continued the climbs began to get steeper and so we’re the decents . The decents were were so steep my knees began to struggle and so I slowed right down,this continued up to lunch time. Later in the day the train of. Dan, Big Red. Tarzan, Whitey, Tentless and .magic caught me  and soon disapeared into the distance .
I plodded on at my own pace  my  watch  annouching the  hours .as i decended  yrt another  hill  i came across  the crew taking lunch so I stopped to join them.
The afternoon was the same as the morning but the climbs just seemed much longer and steeper . I continued on , my target was the next shelter mile 9
Eventually the shelter appeared and again the gang were all there. I went to get water then spent  the next 30 mins relaxing in the sun.
The Gang moved off and I decided  that i would follow shortly.
The rest of the afternoon was going to be more climbs  and  for approximatley 4  miles.
I set off but my energy levels were waning and the climbs  exhausting.
The time began to slow down, Oh my god how much further. ?
When your tired  time seems to stand still and so do the miles.
Fuck, fuck I said to myself I have had enough .On the Paccific Crest trail I would just put throw up my tent But you’re not allowed to do that in the Smokies.
At last the shelter appeared , tpically  the gang had decided to go on ,But this will do me  as  I was done.
I put out my bed in  the shelter  before heading off to get water, Once back i put on a brew  before cooking  Chilli Mac  for  tea , It  was so  tasty.
I  followed thiswith another brew   and  then scoffed a sachet of tuna yummy

Start 180.1
Finish 194.7
mileage 14.6 miles
Remaining 1995.4 Miles

Day 18 leaving Fontana Dam

I woke at 7am  and remarkably I was alive  with no hangover which was amazing considering the rocket fuel that I was drinking  last night and the fact that I was sent to bed.!!
I walked to the nearest picnic table and made a brew. Oh that magic liquid soon  revived me.
I slowly packed up  before noticing that my phone was dead so I put it on charge. Soon I was ready
Omg my pack was so heavy, but I am carrying 7 days of food to get me through the Smokies.
I was going to have a shower before I left, but the next minute I am walking towards the Dam.
it wa such a beatuiful  morning as I set  off to  cross the dam  anf  head into the smokies
I stopped by the dam visitor centre and then had a panic as I couldn’t find my AT passport. I stripped down my pack and eventually  found it in my puffy jacket.
I got it got stamped before  heading  back out towards the dam . It was a lovely walk as i crossed  over  the  dam   once across i  posed with  the Smokies  sign  and was excited  about  entering the Smokies whoop.
I walked up  the  road  wondering  if i was going the correct way  as their were no markers.
at  last   a sign  and  i was soon standing by the sign in box where I had to post my permit.
Right here we go  i am  now  in the smokies  or rather the start of  it . I walked on  but i  knew that it was going to be a tough climb in fact  I would  be climbing all day.
It started and it continued for the entire morning.
Omg it was steep. It was steep, it was hot and it was steep.
I chugged up the trail playing leapfrog with other hikers. In the distance I could see the Fire Tower that  was about  3 miles away..  As i continued  climbing  the firetower slowly got nearer and nearer .
AS  i  came around  a coener , I could  see  Big Red resting,  Then Dan, Beth and Tentless came down from the Tower.
It’s worth a look Snail. they said in unison
So reluctantly I carried on up and  began  to climb up the firetower .
although i didnt go all the way to the top  but  Wow what a view!!
I came down  then tok a 5 minute  break   before returning to the trail

It was about 5 more miles to the next shelter called Molly’s Shelter and i fely good   as i made my way along the trail.
I hiked on until 3 pm when I stopped for a rest and long drink. I checked my map  , Great  it was  about 2 miles  to the shelter , I  continued on until i saw a sign  for water so  decided to fill up with water. When I  arrived at  the stream,  Magic (Tom) and 2 girls. where  also  filling  up their  water bottles
I filled up two bottles  before  heading back yo the trail . Magic said that he was going to push on past Molly’s.
“I will wait to I get there then decide” i said .
The next 2 miles were typically up and I struggled as it was so  hot , I hope  i  have  enough water!  As  i was drinking it at a fast  rate
Soon Molly’s   came into view , Tarzan & Whitety were already here.
You pushing on Snail? They Asked.
“Yeah right” I puffed.
I paused  to  catch my breath  before  head onwards ( I hope this isn’t a mistake  i  said to myself)  Imeaditotly  I began to  climb   and began to get second  thoughts  before  i  began the  decent

big up then down.

I puffed my way up the first climb then it was down.
But the downs were steep  and i went slow   to protect my knees  until  at last the trail leveled out and I was able to get some speed up. The hours ticked slowly by, where  is that bloody shelter?
I continued to pound down the trail oh my god where are you? my  watch pinged informing me that another hour had passed , bloody he’ll  where  is the bloody shelter as I was beginning to run out of steam!
At Last the shelter came into view. I could see Dan and big Red. I dropped my pack and changed my top. Then I went and got water it was a fair  way   so  i  took several bottles.
There were many   hikers  here   so  i  thought i would set  up my  tent  untill the Ridge runner (i) informed  me  that  this was not allowed  in the  smokies . (ii)

Tea first. Then hot chocolate  followed by Mac cheese with bacon, but it didnt really hitthe spot  and so made  another hot chocolate.
I grabbed a space in the shelter.(ii)
Then went for a poo in the woods.
I then hung my food bag tend then to bed

Start 165.3
Finish 180.1
mileage 14.8 miles
Remaining 2010 Miles

(i) What is a ridge runner 

Roughly 30 ridgerunners are hired by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) each season to hike and camp along sections of the Appalachian Trail. Their job is to report on trail conditions, water availability, shelter closings, bear activity and spread important news related to hiker safety, effective food storage in bear country and Leave No Trace practices

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee/North Carolina)

Shelter Policy: Great Smoky Mountains National Park regulations state that it is Mandatory that you stay in a shelter. While other backpackers must make reservations to use backcountry shelters, thru-hikers are exempt. From Mar. 15 to June 15, four spaces at each A.T. shelter are reserved for thru-hikers. If the shelter is full, thru-hikers can tent close by. Only thru-hikers can tent next to shelters, so they are responsible for making room for those who have reservations in the shelters.

The Smokies Shelter Fun

Several times when I arrived at a shelter, the shelter was basically empty, but the ridge runner informed me that the shelter was reserved by at least eight people and there may not be room for thru-hikers.
But I was prepared to tent which was my preference
Other times especially with bad weather    shelters have been packed   and the policy is if a reserved hiker turns up the last through hiker get ejected

Another Time the Ridge runner insisted that we all sleep in the shelter until Near dusk a group of four rolled in with a reservation, so it was tough luck for the last four thru-hikers who had arrived as they would be shoved outside. It was only clear who the very last person in was, and with him searching for a flat spot to pitch a tent, many others slowly pulled their sleeping bags up over their heads as if nothing was happening.


The shelter situation also has a sanitation issue, as there are no Privies
What you get is access to a a large spade
Meaning that “Waste” is being haphazardly dispersed near the shelter area. While there are designated toilet areas, the abundance of TP blooms is both unsightly and unsanitary.
Although these toilet areas are typically on the opposite side of the ridge from a water source, the several storms I witnessed soon blow this waste around the shelters and possibly into the water

Day 17 Nero to Fontana Dam mile 165

I  got  up  early  as i wanted  to be on trail early . it was only 6 miles   to Fontanna dam  and  i wanted to  be there before lunch .  I  waved good  bye  to  my  hiker buddies  and  stopped  out  onto  the  trail  and up.
it was several  hours  of climbing   before  i  began the long decent   down to Fontanna dam .
i  thought i was setting a good pace  until Steve and Lauren steamed past me.  I was in no hurry  as i watched them  go .
I was pacing myself  as i knew  the  first climbs  would be steep
I adopted this for much of the day. eventually I began to head and down, occasional I had  great visions of the country side and glances of the dam. AS i hiked  on the dam become closer   but  vanished from view as I decended lower and lower. and shortley emerged onto the road
Whoop I was  here at Fontana Dam. I wasnt sure  on how i got  to  the  complex  so  wandered across the  road   and through a small gap in the trees . as i passed through I  I noticed my crew.
Hi guys  i called , Has anyone called the shuttle ?
Yes  snail  he  is on his way ?
we all chilled in the morning sunshine  before posing for a few  photos
The the shuttle arrived and we waited  for a stream of  hikers  to get off and retrive their  packs  before  we boarded . We all l asked for the grill.

As  the  driver set  off he  turned up  the music  and   the  first track  ws the Bluegrass version of  Toto , Africa   and  the  whole  of  the  bus  burdt  into  song  it was utterly brilliant   so  we asked  for it to be played again

We soon arived   at  the Grill and swaremed from the  bus     and  headed to  the resturant like locosts
We all decided to sit  outside first before deciding  that it wass too cold so  we all haeaded inside and  amahded to  sit  around a huge round table.
I ordered up lovely IPA at 6 % that was delicious. before ordering the house salad followed by the rare Dam buster burger that was so tasty.
We  all enjoyed  our meals chatting  about  our exploits .

After lunch  we ventured to the store. some did laundry others like me just sat in the        parking lot  in  the warm sun and drank beer.
It was a great atmosphere  as more   familar faces arrived .
Dan offered to grab my  resuppluy box so when he returned I organised my food
then brought more beer .
Eventually we grabbed shuttle back to the trail or  rather the  campsite .My pack seemed very  heavy as we walked to the shelter. But then i decided to camp
THe  tent pads  were concrete  so you  needed a free standing  tent  which mine was
I quickly put my  tent then we  congrgated around a picknick bench  and    carried  on  our  low  key  party
At 9pm I was escorted to my tent as  my  legs  had  stopped working properly

night all

Start  159
Finish 165
mileage  6
Remaining 2025 miles

Day 16 Sassafras Gap Shelter to Cable gap Shelter Mile 158.8

I slept really well I fact too well as my snoring kept a few hikers awake. oops
I got up visited the loo then began to pack up. Once packed I made a brew and relaxed for 5 minutes before hoisting my pack and heading out.

The first part was typically up and I huffed and puffed up it. AT the top was lovely open place and you could see for miles. Dan , Beth and Tom we’re here . I took some video and a few snaps then took off. mainly climbing. if was sunny and I was trying out my new shorts that I loved. as they had so. much knee rooms. the trail was more of an obstacle course with large drops to navigate over. Bloody hell. and the slopes with the mud were treacherous. Omg I was almost falling over every second Arrrh. this continued for most of the morning. soon other hikers began to stream past me. But I was in no hurry. The whitey came last me and he was almost running. WTF….

plodded on I was in no hurry and today my knees felt good. I then passed two other hikers a quiet whoop from me as I went by.
It then  began to rain. only drizzle but I stopped to put on my pack cover just in case ,but as I pushed on as the rain began to get heavier.

As I began  my decent I began to make out the road through the mist . As I got closer I could see creatures distinctive truck .Hi creatcher  I called  out as I crossed the road.
I continued up, this part wasn’t too bad ……. Then I reached Jacobs Ladder and with all the rain  it was so slppery that for every two steps i slipped back one.
Jacobs ladder  just went on and on and on as i was climbing  her Dudeness passed me   then  a few minutes later whitey and Tarzan  sped past  me  or  seemed to , their  voices  echoing into  the  mist  high above

I just  kept on climbing and the higher i went  i was soon surround  by  mist . The mu was making it tough going for me  and  it was so slippery making it nightmarish. and so  several  swear words fell out of my mouth
AT last I  reached the top and stopped  for a well deserved  swig of blackcurrant flavoured water, panted for a few minutes before I continued on.
At last the trail began to decend   but once again due to the mud, it was so bloody slippery it was a nightmare . I had to walk so slowly, or I would be on my arse. so, slow it was. The next minute i slid and wason  my arse staring up at the sky . Luckily no damage. Fuck it I said wiping the mud from my body. and checking myself

Right I am going on. I was at the shelter that was my target for today, but everything felt good. (Especially my knees). I  put on my rain jacket and pushed on as the trail was fairly level as I splashed through the puddles and the mud. I sang to myself. slip sliding away as I cursed the mud.
Ping went my watch announcing that it was  4 pm  but i wanted another 2 miles so pushed on.
I  then heard voices behind me , it was Laura. she was having a shit day and was close to tears.
we walked and chatted for a a while .well yes, this weather has been shit.
I knew that she was on a mission  so  didnt want to hold  her up.
“See you at the shelter” i said  as i watched her  race ahead,Laura  was fast so didnt enem try to follow her.

I soon came  to a road , my maps said that it was  1.1 miles to the next shelter from here . But it still seems to takes for ever, round, Up, down and repeat……At last I can see the shelter.(Cable gap Shelter) Unfortunatley  it was full when i arrived and so I am camping.

I quickly drop my pack change into some dry clothes then find a spot for my tent. I put up the tent leaving the fly off so that my tent could air and dry.

Then I joined my mates, Dan, Beth, Tyler, Tom, big Red. Laura and others.
We sat arround  the fire cooking  our  tea  and  talking  about our crap day !!

After cooking I retreated to my tent , finished setting up  before hanging  my food and so to bed night

Start 143.7
Finish 159
mileage 16

You can find  my videos  on my FACEBOOK PAGE add or follow me Roger Robinson (Snailtrainer)

Day 15 From the NOC to Sassafras Gap Shelter mile 143

I slept really well as it was lovely and warm in my bunk and with dry bag. I woke around 7am but didn’t get up until 8 am. I visited the loo and then on the way back   grabbed water. Once back at the cabin I began to go through my stuff, I still have  far  too much food , so decide to take the spare to the hiker box. I check my gear one more time then I hoisted my pack.  Dan took  look at  my pack  yesterday as was lop-sided and  had  fixed  it, Dan adjusted on of my straps that had come loose.
I double checked the cabin once more , said good-byes to Dan & Beth and marched out towards  the general store. I got my passport stamped and the brought a cherry coke.
As I sat enjoying my drink I suddenly  realised that I didn’t have my rain jacket.
Bollocks I said to myself and quickly raced back to the .cabin.
Luckily Bill was still  there and passed me my rain jacket.
How the hell did I forget that, come on Snail pay attention. I said  to myself  as I thought that I maybe buying a new one.

OKAY let’s go as, I knew that I would  be climbing all day. The first part was really pretty  but I soon  needed to stop to remove a layer as I was roasting. .The sun was  up and with clear skies I could actually see some scenery.  As I continued climbing   the trail become tough and rocky and I really needed to be a billy Goat. phew it’s tough.

As I rounded an other switch back I was met with a fantastic views  so stopped for a break and to make  the most of them. I checked my map and was surprised to see that i had only 3 miles to go wow that’s good I will soon be there!! whoop.
I moved after 20 minutes and continued the climb. the trail getting steeper and steeper and so  I was soon puffing and panting like a train.
Up and up I climbed. it was relentless and seemed never-ending  i passed  2 Canadians who were resting and  continued on.
I was still chugging up when Red passed  me and disappeared up the trail. I pushed on and at last  began the decent, but  typically  it was steep and slippery and so I moved slow but felt I was making good progress until my knee cried stop.
I imeaditley pulled over and took more meds before  gingerly moving on. then up ahead  I saw two familiar faces of Dan & Beth.
“Good going Snailtrainer ” they said
As I crossed over the Hill I could see the shelter but  with my knee I decided to call it a day. I dumped my gear and was soon making a brew , followed by supper.

It wasnt long until  the shelter was full. I joined my fellow hikers around the fire then bed

Finish 143.7
mileage 6.7

Day 14 Rodents, Heading to the NOC Mile 136

I had a lousy sleep which was  my own fault for having food in my tent.
I was woken at 11pm by what i thought was water  dripping on my head, but when  I put on my head torch i was confronted  withtwo little eyes staring back at me. a bloody mouse it took me 20 mins to catch the bugger and throw   him out of  my tent. Then I noticed a second which took longer to  chase around my tent, How the FUCK did they get in . I examined my tent and found a  hole, the bastards  bastards. I goy  up and  repaired the hole as i didnt want any more visitors
Dam it i was  wide awake now  and  couldn’t get back to sleep
Lesson learnt No NO FOOD in my tent.

I eventually woke at 7am and quickly packed up, not even bothering to  put on a brew
I rejoined the trail at 8.30 and as soon as I began to walk ,my Knee complained and . pain shot up my leg. Oh come on Knee  i pleaed ,I downed several ibuprofen and 2 painkillers then shuffled forward . My goal for today was the NOC. Nandana outdoor centre,  just over 9 miles away. I shuffled off down the trail and soon began the first  climb of the day. My knee seemed to like this and so I was able  to make  good progress , until  it was time to decend . Due to the rain it was terecherous , it was so slippery and  I am not surefooted as  most  people  and so this was an adventure and right knee hated it. I made my way down as best as I could but it i was slow and so  wasn’t doing the. mileage. I was in no hurry but I did want to get there.

Several hikers past me by as I mumbled and swore to myself as I limped on..I stopped and downed 2 more ibuprofen and 2 more painkillers before continuing on. I was now I a small burn area although  not as vast as I had witnessed on the Paccific Crest trail.
and again I climbing, that’s what you do on the Appalachian Trail you climb, you climb a lot. I climbed for an hour before deciding to  take a break. I  ate a protein bar before eating  an apple that I had carried for two days, but  boy  did it  tast so good. I swiged lemonade before  hoisting up my pack and returning  to the trail. The rest of the morning was like a rollar-coaster  up and down and up and down finishing with a huge climb. I am sure the views would be spectacular on a Sunny day but all I could see was FOG…….

At last I’m heading down and , but  the trail  is  stil very slippery  with  sheer drops … a very long way to fall and  in places the trail is non-existent. its hands and arms as i clamber over huge  rock and  slabs  .

This  scrambling  down  soon makes my  knee complain that it has had enough and as I do not want  to fall off a mountain I decide to  take a quick break. I am  just about to sit  on a rock when  I hear another hiker behind me, it’s Tarzan.
“How you doing” Snail he asks.
“Bloody knees playing up” I reply.
“Need a shot of moonshine?
Well it cant do me any  harm  I replied ”  and took a huge gulp, phew it’s 100%+ and envelopes me in a warm glow.
“Laters snail” Tarzan   replies   and then he is gone.

I sit  for a few more minutes before continuing on , the trail to  the NOC  is down  but  due  to my knees  it seems to take forever. I am making good progress until my pack decides to list to the right, I try to correct it but can not with out stopping again and i do not want to do that . But being unbalanced  is also effecting my knees .
I guess it doesn’t help when  your kit is wet and so your possibly carrying an extra 10 lb.
I limp on muttering under my breath until  I hear other hikers behind me.
I shout out  please pass as  my knees are killing me , before noticing that it was Dan & Beth. We walked a while   andn   decided to split a cabin if there was one avilable . THen i  watched them go,
“see you inabout an hour” i called

The trail was still heading down but where was the NOC how much further.?
At last I could make out a building and cars .

Eventually I emerged onto the road and crossed over to the Outfitter. sat outside was Tyler (Tentless) we chatted  a while , before  I went to find Dan
eventually i tracked him down  and  found our way to our  cabin or sparse bunk room but it had a bed.
I reorganised my pack slept  before stepping out of my clothes. I  grabbed up all my wet stuff plus my sleeping bag and headed for the laundry, i got some change from the outfiiters and  soap then found the machines .I put my clothes in the washer then put my bag into the drier. There was a nice little community outside so enjoyed talking bollocks for a few moments. Tyler produced 2 x 10 packs of beer so the mood was soon relaxed even further. While my clothes were being washed I walked back over to the store to pick up my parcels. whoop both here. I brought a patching kit  for my tent before  heading back to laundry.
A nice dry  bag, heaven!
Once done I headed back to the cabin. I seem to  have stuff everywhere, but now it’s clean and my bag is dry. I sorted through my food as i was still carrying too much and decided to discarded some., as I don’t want to drag excess weight up a 6 mile climb DREAD!!!.

After my chores i was now hungry so went insearch of food
I wandered back across the  bridge and entered the restaurant.  I found a  table, ordered a beer and the chicken chilli.
The beer was good, although the chilli was disapointing .I  should of had a burger or pizza oh well.  I had just finished when  Dan,Beth and Tyler joined me so I ordered another beer and a side of fries. Omg the fries were enormous.
We chatted and enjoyed each other’s company and were just about to leave when Tank arrived and  so the conversation continued  on.
Eventually we made  our way back to  the cabin and bed

Start 127.4
Finish 137
mileage 9.4
Remaining  2054.2

Day 13 Destination Big branch Campsite mile127

it rained throughout the night.but I slept well waking only to have a wee.

At 7am it was throwing it down. mmm I thought I may be staying here all day . I could see another tent through the fog. I must have dozed off as later woke and it was 9.

when I peered out of my tent, the other tents had gone.
What shall I do I pondered as it was too wet to take my tent down. I decided that i would  pack up so if the rain stops so that  it  remained fairly dry

But as i waited and waited  i  began to  get  impaitent as i was  losing valuble  hiking hours , Bugger it i said  to myself  and  let down my pad, rolled it up. then i packed up  my sleeping bag.  I wassoon  packed, but the rain didn’t want to stop. come on Snail you can not waste a day. Then I thought about what Dan & Beth had said about dropping their  tent from beneath. Its  wortha try  i  decided to myself ,I unclicked the tent from the fly. hey I was rather impressed. I could then roll it up leaving the fly and the footprint whoop not a bad effort for my first attemp . I rolled up the foot print before stuffing  the fly into a dry bag to keep my other kit dry. Brilliamt  i am ready  and felt slightly smug  as I walked back to the trail , It was  11am, Not good but not a complete waste of a day.
I hadn’t gone far when my right knee began to complain. bugger bugger come on knee you have had a good nighrts rest
The trail continued to climb and I was glad that I stopped when I did last night as I didn’t see anywhere else to camp.  Eventually I emerged on top of a hill , it was still rainly and foggy  but  i could just about make  out a monument. I went  to take a look  but as  it was freezing rain I didn’t stop long. From this point the trail climbed for the rest of the day and with the pouring rain there was nothing to see. With the continuous rain the trail was  like a river so it was not long  before I  gave up on trying to keep my feet dry and just splashed my through. Every now and then my knee would shout  stop. and i had to take a 5 minute break ,before I was able to convince it to go on.
As i was taking time out  “Her Dudeness”  passed me and was gone. I  tried  to  ctach  her  but she was afast  and wasnt  having knee issues , i then began to hear voices and came to a camp of about 5 tents.
The blond English girl was here, I waved and pushed on, trying to increase my pace but as the  trail seemed to continusly  climb  speed for me was difficult.
After an hour I reached the next shelter whoop, but my target was  2 more miles  but  my  knee was giving me  so much  pain ,only two more miles  i pleaded with my knee
When your tired and in pain the trail the trail  never  easy or helpful. I continued climbing until at last the trail began to decend, but it was awful to walk down
At last a camp.

As it was still poring  with  rain i  put  my  up  in reverse and was really pleased  with my effort ,except that I am on a slope!  oh well.
I went and got water then quickly put on a brew. I was still a bit  cold  and  so got into my bag wet, hoping my body  heat would dry me but as my  bag  was also slightly  too damp it  didnt really  help WE  both really could use some sun,well actually everything is damp.
I eventually made dinner, pasta and tuna followed by hot chocolate before climbing back  into  my  bed, Outside  the rain continued  to  pour

Start 117.7
Finish 127.4
mileage 9.7
Remaining  1953.1