We started this blog when we thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012. Since then, we have completed our hike, gotten married, and started a new adventure traveling South America. Follow our journey here!
The past six days, we've been taking it slow and focusing on my knee recovery - with some success! Yesterday, we hiked 11 miles without too much pain, and we plan to build up from there. Georgia and North Carolina are both infamously tough on the joints with their big elevation changes, so we are hoping to get through the Smokies and crank up the mileage once we get to Virginia, where the trail is much flatter. It has been a personal struggle for me to slow down and stop pushing the knee to go until it can't, but thankfully Brian has been patient and firm on holding me to our "knee schedule".
We started our six day run with Mt. Albert - we didn't have to push our packs, but we did have to stow our trekking poles and use all four limbs. There was a fire tower at the top with amazing 360 degree views. The knee schedule only had us do 2.2 miles that day - pretty much up Albert and back down.
We had more rainy weather, enduring 16 straight hours of pelting rain one night. Everything we have was wet and covered in mud by morning. With another rainy forecast the following night, we sucked it up and spent our first night in a shelter (we typically hike to a shelter for the water source, bear bag cables, and privy, and then camp nearby). The shelters themselves are three-sided wooden structures that sleep 4 - 12 and usually have a picnic table for cooking dinner. They are notoriously rodent-ridden, which is the reason for our avoidance, but that night we didn't wake up to any squeaking or scratching. Either way, we've decided that in a thunderstorm, shelters are the way to go.
Rain often turns the trail into a stream.
In and around the shelters, we usually eat and relax around a campfire with other hikers. We've met a lot of great folks and come across some creative trail names - some of our favorite names include Squid Belly, Ten Minutes, Impulse, and Captain Guts. It is a weird experience to get to know someone and never learn their real name.
Tonight we are at a white water rafting outpost near Bryson City, NC to resupply - in three to four days, we'll be entering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the most visited national park in the country and home to 400 - 600 black bears. The Smokies will take us about a week and usher us across our second state line - Tennessee! Our next visit with civilization will likely be Gatlinburg....until then, we miss you all!