Made it to Damascus, Virginia after a 24 miles (38 km) hike yesterday, zero day nr 4 today. Totally we have done 469 (478) miles/ 765 km in 34 days.
Resuming what was most non-expected during the first month on the trail:
1) Rhododendron: we’ve seen 1000x more Rhododendron bushes than so far in our lives. Had no idea that the Southern Appalachians are that full of Rhododendron.
2) No trail magic: have’nt seen any trail magic for more than 3 weeks. Yesterday there was a sign which announced a box provided by a Baptiste church but inside there was only scrap and empty cans.
3) Ups and downs: was aware that it’s a lot of climbs and descents but reality is even harder. Long climbs are fine, this is a fair deal you prepare for, but all these 10-20 minor ups and downs every day are really hard.
4) Changing weather: snow, hail and icy rain on Roan Mt, sun and almost 30 C 3 days later.
Busted flat in Gatlinburg, waitin’ for the rain to end, feelin near as faded as … don’t know what, hikers wear no jeans (see K. Kristofferson). After the last few days I would rather call the Great Smokey Mountains the Great Muddy Mountains and the trail ‘Appalachian channel’. Guys we met said they have not seen the trail that muddy for the last 30 years. No day without rain for more than 10 days and the descent from Clingmans Dome today was just walking in a stream. Clingmans Dome is besides the highest point of the A.T., 2025m. In pouring rain and hard winds we had no real joy to celebrate this moment. No down to Gatlinburg which is known as the USA’s most touristic town (the Great Smokey Mountains NP is the USA’s most visited National Park). The whole town feels a little bit like the Vienna Prater, of course US style. Dunkin Donuts is next to our Motel and I’m wondering if I should check out what it is that attracts Homer Simpson that much. I guess we’ll take our second zero day tomorrow if it continues to rain that heavily. Wait and see what tomorrow brings!
166 (175) miles / 280 km done. About 1/13 of the trail 😄. No pain, no rain – no Maine many people say. We had A LOT of rain the last few days and the trail was deep and VERY muddy. Some times really hard to do the steep climbs and descents without falling.
The song for the last days of pouring rain: http://youtu.be/a30R_drH2GA – even if we enter the Smokies first on Friday.
The 950 m climb from Nantahala Outdoor Center to Cheohah Bald was the 7th hardest of the entire AT and a guy who needed 3 days for this section said it’s the longest continous ascent of the whole trail.
The trail name issue seems to become more and more urgent. Until now we avoided to take trail names – just used our ‘normal’ ones, but as a lot of hikers already quit and dropped off for the ones still on the trail a trail name is a ‘must have’. Silva thinks Silva is perfect even as trail name as it’s Latin for ‘wood’. Im tending to eventually take ‘Spock’, honouring actor and wise man Leonhard Nimoy.