Day 23 leaving Standing Bear.


slept well although I would have liked to have slept for longer. but nature had other thoughts or rather the rooster did
I finally emerged around 7.30, visited the porter-potty then wandered down to the kitchen. There were several pots of coffee there, so I poured myself a large cup

The brown liquid woke me up as it tasted so good. I then watered back to the lounge and was so pleased to see that my back up battery was showing fully charged.

I was in no hurry to day as the group that I was rolling with had no plans to leave until 12ish.

I ordered 2 breakfast rolls that are frozen that you must nuke yourself. (microwave) Rubbish food but they tasted so good. I then set about trying to catch up on blogs and video. There’s good Wi-Fi but I can’t appear to publish anything. bit did manage to have a conversation on What’s App.

I was chilled until I noticed the gang packing up.
I thought you guys had planned to head out after lunch?
Change of plan Snail
Bollocks I said to myself as I do not like to be rushed, I checked my food bag …. yes, I think I can make it to hot springs.

I quickly packed up and I am soon ready As I head off its 11.30.

Once again, it’s going to be a lot of climbing and the first climb is for approximately 4 miles

As I climbed the sun was getting hotter   and me and my pack seems extra heavy although it’s half full. I pushed on my watch telling me that it 84 f and that’s in the shade.

I have no energy at all as I crawl up the mountain. And I begin to get frustrated with myself as this must be my worst day. I just couldn’t climb. I really couldn’t do it today.

I kept pausing sucking at my water and stumbling a few steps forward. God this is crap. come on Snail. it took my many hours to huff a d puff my way to the top. I was disappointed with myself. why did I struggle so much?

At last I reached the top. Up here was an aircraft warning station some sort of radar.
I wandered over for a better look and was surprised to see Dan and Beth taking a few minutes while they dried their tent.

I joined them, and I dropped my pack and took a 30 min break. As I   tried to motivate myself. The timeout seemed to do the trick as I now felt so much better AS I set off down the trail.

I was only going to do an 8 Miles today, so I was in no hurry and here the trail would be descending, although these descents kill my knees. I tried to go as fast as my knees would allow as it was steep.
I was miles away when a girl and her Husky passed me. AS the dent spiralled down I could watch them getting lower I wish I could go that fast sign.

I eventually came to the cross roads where a group of hikers sat
They all wanted to do another 6 miles. But I was done it was. -2 miles to the shelter. I took the shelter trail and soon arrived. Big Red was there, but the others had gone on.

I quickly found a place for my tent and put it up as I fended off these little black flies.

I blew up my bed. then took my food down towards the shelter.

Magic (Tom) and Tentless were debating whether to go on. finally, they tossed a coin. Magic called heads and lost so they both headed out
Nova the girl with the husky, Big Red and myself cooked tea. There were also two ladies and chap here with a gorgeous choc lab., who made me miss my boy back home

I made hot chocolate then cooked mash with bacon bits and nuts then I cleaned up and retreated to my tent. got water. then hung my food, early to bed I think

7 miles, Not great mileage but it was late start. I would like 16 tomorrow


Start 241
Finish 247.2
mileage 7 miles
Remaining 1942 Miles


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 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