Friday, April 29, 2011

Hot Springs

I arrived in Hot Springs yesterday at about 6:30 p.m. yesterday after doing a 13 mile hike. When I got to our campsite last night I was tired and as soon as I got to my patch for my tent I just took off my pack and lay down, with which Tom yelled at me to get up. But after I set up my tent we went out to eat and we got to the diner at about 8:10 p.m. and it closed at 8 p.m. Today we plan to do a few miles out of town to a campsite out on the mountains. I must be leaving now for Tom is rushing me but I hope to have a good day.
-Ben

Hot springs

So now we are in Hot Springs, NC. My shoes quit on me, they started giving me some blisters on the down hills and I got my first bruised toenail. Plus the shoes fell apart. I chose a pair of trail runners that should be better for me.
Last night we stayed at the campground on the outskirts of town. It was jam packed, cause there's a river fest going on today. However last night we also had a pleasant surprise. There was an older couple sharing a campsite with us. They gave us milk and butter =D, along with hot dogs, and ice for Ben's knee, and also some chocolate milk!!!
Well now we are about to go down to the diner and grab the biggest juiciest burger we can.
-Tom

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Good-bye Smokies

Wednesday, April 27, 2011  Day 39

So the boys are out of the Smokies!  After leaving Gatlinburg they muddled through the last 30+ miles of the Smokies; Ben with a bum knee and Tom wanting to put more miles under their boots.  When they arrived at the eastern boundary of the Smokies the boys were welcomed with a "hiker feed".  Veggie burgers, tomatoes, lettuce, poptarts, Snicker bars, etc.  Hearing Tom tell the story of the hiker feed was like remembering him unwrapping Christmas presents when he was a little boy.  He was thrilled and grateful and hungry for some fresh food!  They finished this remote section of the trail on Easter Sunday and spent the night at the Standing Bear Farm Hiker Hostel.  We had been expecting a call from them when they arrived at the hostel but finally gave up and called the owners.  They told us to call back in 10 minutes because he would have to go out in the bunkhouse and see if the boys were out there.  He said he had about 30 guys in the bunkhouse and/or camping in the yard.  It's the busy season along the AT.  The next day found Ben feeling horrible.  He just was achy and miserable and his knee was killing him.  We asked if he wanted to come home.  His response was NO, he was having too much fun! He just wanted to rest his knee a bit.   Apparently the boys were able to negotiate a work for pay option with the hostel owner and they stayed another night.  They did some small chores and Tom helped to transplant a tree.  They left the Standing Bear Hostel on Tuesday morning and are heading towards Hot Springs, NC.  They arrived tonight (Wed.) at the Walnut Mountain Shelter which makes their total miles hiked at 258.7 miles! 

They are now hiking along the North Carolina and Tennessee Border.  It seems that some days they are in one state and the next day in another and occasionally hiking through both states in one day.  This section of the trail is 153.6 miles long. 

Today also had Tom calling home to let us know that he needs a new pair of hiking boots! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hotel

So currently I am sitting at the public library. The library is 5.9 miles away from the hotel :(..........However since the town is a tourist trap with a bunch of tourists(picture the most cheesy overweight tourists you can), they have a wonderful trolley system(thank God).
    People sometimes think "Oh you are walking over 2,000 miles whats 1 or 2 more." 1 or 2 more is a mental slap in the face....=P
    Ok well this library for one thing is really huge!! Also on another note, there is a library cat. \=O I think that is awesome!! My Dad gave told me I'm supposed to be learning about the town while I'm here. So when I get off the computer I think I'm gonna walk around and read everything about the town.
    The hotel that we are staying at is awesome, however we have made the room a complete pigsty oops. Yeah I told the maid to just clean tomorrow cause it was too much of a mess for her to clean up. Me and Ben(or if you are reading this mom)(Ben and I)will be cleaning up most of the room all by ourselves and packing tonight.
    Ok back to the trail. It's fun hiking, I can feel it getting easier and easier to haul my butt up the little hills(huge mountains). The food out here is great! Breakfast is normally: peanut butter, honey, and a carnations instant breakfast, and if I'm feeling spoiled I'll even make oatmeal! Lunch is ramen and some more peanut butter and honey. Dinner =D is all in one pot: first we make some noodles, then add the mash patatoes to it, some taco seasoning, and then some tuna!!! It is such a filling meal its not funny. Snacks have been: beef jerky, granola bars, sunflower kernals, and then some more peanut butter and honey.
    Hiking out on the AT is like going on a long extended family trip. Even if you only go by yourself, cause everybody looks out for each other and are generally kind spirited and happy. Theres only been a few people that have raised a few warning flags, but they turned out to be just like everyone else. Just a little bit more scary looking.
    The views are awesome, yet I'm slowly losing my awe for overlooks with distant landscapes, and slowly moving my view to what is closer and noticing things. Like how the sun comes through the trees casting rays of light everywhere, and with Ben hiking in front of me most times it would make an awesome picture. I think I took some with the camera(which to me since I'm used to a really nice nikon is piece of garbage, but it works it just has none of the custom settings im used to)When we send the camera card back my Mom will post them online.


-Well I think I've written enough for now,
                                                              Tom
Tom and Ben at the Approach Trail to Springer Mountain.  This was the start of their AT adventure on March 20, 2011. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

30 Days on the Trail

April 18, 2011
Tom and Ben started their hike into the most remote section of the trail this week.  This section of the trail passes through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and one must hike more than 40 miles before reaching the first and only highway to cross the AT in the Smokies.  Once at the highway it is 18 miles east to Cherokee, NC or 15 miles west to Gatlinburg, TN.  If a hiker decides not to get off the trail here and resupply, then he would have to hike another 30+ miles out of the national park before hitting another highway.   The highest point along the trail is also in the Smoky Mountain section.  Clingmans Dome has an elevation of 6,643 feet.  Tom and Ben reported that it was very cloudy and there were no good views the day they arrived there. Check out the viewing tower. It's really awesome!


Yesterday, (Sunday) the boys hiked to the highway and were met by a pick up truck handing out bowls of hot chili, drinks, and fresh apples.  Then the "trail angels" offered rides to any hikers wishing to go into town and get supplies and/or stay the night.  Tom and Ben assessed their current situation and decided they needed more food as they were hiking slower than planned because Ben's injured knee was not improving.  When he called home, Tom informed us that he had purchased a knee brace and additional food supplies and that they were headed back to the trail.  After talking with Ben about his knee, we asked the boys to stay in town for 2 days and give Ben a much needed rest.  Apparently he was having trouble sleeping due to his knee cramping up in the middle of the night.  So they are staying at the Grand Prix motel in Gatlinburg, TN that offers a "hiker" room rate!  Today, the guys are headed to a walk in clinic to have the knee evaluated.

I waited to post this update until I heard back from the guys.  Ben has a bit of fluid on his knee but the x-ray looked fine.  The doc gave him a steroid shot, some pain meds, and more steroids to take for the knee.  He recommended 2-3 days of rest before hitting the trail again.  So I asked Ben what he wanted to do: continue hiking or come home.  He said HIKING!  So they are going to spend another night in Gatlinburg, then they'll hit the trail again on Wednesday.  This week will find them back in the Smokies with a bit more than 30 miles to finish up that section.  Then they will be heading for their next goal of getting to the Standing Bear Farm Hiker Hostel where they have an Easter package awaiting them.  After that they will be aiming for Hot Springs, NC where the AT is marked by special AT diamonds in the sidewalk as the trail passes through the center of town.

Tom also reported that they weighed in last night at the Grand Prix Motel in Gatlinburg.  The motel provides a a scale for hikers to weigh their gear.  Apparently Tom lost 19 lbs and Ben has lost 22 lbs.  Good job guys.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Hi everyone today Tom and I are in a small tourist town called Gatlinburg. Were at the Grand Prix motel and taking 2 days off because my knee needs to be looked at by a doctor. The trip is going good so far and I had a good time last night. On the way back to our hotel room yesterday evening (10:30 p.m.) when we stopped at an airsoft gun shop and picked up 2 6mm single fire airsoft guns and 1000 pellets. Last night was fun we stayed up until 2 a.m. and the hotel room floor is covered in pellets but they don't hurt at all. I must be going and take more ibuprofen and we have to go shopping, thanks everyone.

-Ben

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011 Fontana Dam and some Drama

Tom and Ben are in the lovely resort of Fontana Dam,NC staying at the Fontana Hilton.  Before thinking that this must be some posh hotel, check out this link!


It's the largest shelter on the trail and sleeps 24!  Fontana Dam is the highest dam in the eastern United States and was  built by the Tennessee Valley Authority on the Little Tennessee River in the 1940's. 

This is their last stop and re-supply before heading into the Great Smoky Mountains.  Once in there, they will not be able to re-supply so readily. They'd have to hike 40 miles to the nearest road, then hitch the 15-18 miles into the nearest town. And Tom has assured me that he picked up their back-country permit at Fontana as well.  If caught in the Smokies without it- $125 fine! Ouch!  They have a total of 72 miles to get through the Smokies- and there is still snow there. 

And for the drama- the boys were hanging out at NOC earlier this week.  After leaving there and being on the trail for a couple of days, word was passed up the trail that a sheriff and park ranger were on the look out for  two "unaccompanied minors".  Tom called home as soon as he had a signal.  All we know is that the sheriff received a call and they were investigating.  The boys are handing out calling cards for people to follow their blog and apparently someone saw how old they were and called the authorities.  The boys have continued on their hike and have had no more problems so it looks like this matter blew over.  Thank goodness.  We sent the boys out on the trail because we as their parents knew they could handle it.  They are in contact with us daily or at the most every other day.  So for anyone out there who is concerned about their readiness, their age, their abilities- just know this: we love our guys and they are only hiking for as long as they want to hike.  They can come home at anytime, for any reason.  This is supposed to be fun for them and they are hiking their own hike the way they want to hike it.  So if you have any worries feel free to email us at the address on the calling card:  holywhale@msn.com
And thanks to everyone who emails us with updates about the boys.   We love to hear their successes, their foibles, their not so glamorous moments, etc. You are all the extra pair of eyes that we need as parents.  And now they know, that Mom and Dad know just what they are up too!   Please keep sharing with us!

And sorry that we don't have any new pics yet.  The guys have had a hard time uploading pics since most of the computers they can use prohibit them from uploading anything.  So we have a new plan. We are sending them some new camera cards and then they will send theirs home and we will upload the pics.  We can keep rotating the cards throughout the hike.  So when we get the card, we'll upload the pic:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fontana

Here we are in Fontana Village Resort.. Everything is super expensive >:(. We are sleeping around the shelter all day tomorrow and taking a zero. Then the day after we are heading into the Smokies. Trying my best to get some pictures but the computers at the resort are kind of locked from getting any new files or something like that.
-Tom

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ben and Tom taking a Zero day at Nantahala Outdoor Center

Tom and Ben are at Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC)  in Wesser, NC.  Here the AT crosses a pedestrian bridge over the Nantahala River.  They took some time to ice their legs in the river to help some of the swelling in one of Ben's knees and to just ice their aching feet and joints!  Tonight they are camping with some fellow hikers in a rented cabin. 

Here's a pic that Tom sent today of Ben(on left) and another hiker named "Tortoise". 


Monday, April 4, 2011

100 miles +

Tom and Ben made some milestones this week.

1. They left their first state (Georgia) and hiked into state #2 (North Carolina).
2. They hit 100 miles on the trail.
3. They learned that running out of fuel is NO fun!

Before arriving at the Blueberry Patch hostel last week, the boys had
run out of fuel for their stove. They were left with cold oatmeal and
dry ramen. They met a group of guys from Mississippi doing a section
hike on the trail. The guys were kinds enough to share some tuna and
tortillas with the boys.

They have also found some "trail magic" along the way. People leave
food/drinks for hikers in coolers at road crossings, or near streams,
etc. They were happy the one day to find some cold, bottled water in a
cooler. Another time they came upon a couple handing out candy bars and
Skittles to the hikers passing by.

They spent a nice day at the Blueberry Patch. They had to hike to the pickup point by 9:30 am in order to catch the shuttle to the hostel. Tom had them both up at 4:30 am and hiking by 5. They arrived at the transport spot 2 hours ahead of schedule! But since it was first come first serve, they got a bunk. Ben was able to pick up his mail packages- his wallet and his other hiking pole that didn't arrive before they left for the hike. Once arriving at the hostel, they took showers (their first in 10 days1), had their laundry done, and then took the shuttle into town where they went to the library, to the grocery store to resupply and the library to update the blog.

Last Wednesday the boys left Georgia for North Carolina and were headed for the town of Franklin. On the way to Franklin they hit 100 miles. They noticed that Mom had made a calculation error in their forecasted mileage for that week and they arrived a day late in town. When they arrived at the highway leading into Franklin they waited for someone to offer them a ride. Yes, they are hitchhiking- a very common activity amongst thru-hikers on the trail and something that we discussed in-depth before they left. The areas surrounding the trail have accommodated hikers for years and have been known to go out of their way to help the hikers. So anyway, the second car that came by offered them a ride partway into town. He was a former hiker himself and was kind enough to drop them off near some railroad tracks. After he drove off another car came in the opposite direction than they were headed. He made a u-turn and came back and offered the boys 2 subs from Subway and 2 sodas. Being very hungry the boys readily accepted. Again, this was another former hiker helping out the current hikers! Soon another vehicle came by and offered them a ride into town. They arrived in time to attend the annual hiker festival that the town sponsors. The Appalachian Trail actually follows the main thoroughfare of the town. We had switched their hotel reservations from Friday to Saturday but unfortunately their room had already been given away. So they found another local hotel and checked in. They were really grateful for a hot shower, a real bed, and cheap pizzas from Dominoes! On Sunday morning, the hotel offered a shuttle to a local church for all the hikers. The church provided a FREE all you can eat (AYCE) pancake breakfast for the hikers. The boys are really thrilled by all the generosity they have been extended so far on the trail.

So they are still having fun on Day 16 on the trail. Ben did text this morning to say they had mice in the shelter last night but that they didn't get into anything! They haven't had any run ins with bears so that is a positive! This week they are headed for Fontana Dam. This will be there last stop before entering the Smoky Mountains!


posted by MOM

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Franklin North Carolina!!

North Carolina has been treating me pretty good so far. Twisting my ankles left and right, but no sprains yet thank God. So I'm on a random computer at a random hotel where theres food for the hikers. Had half a pizza for dinner and then did a really cheap resupply. I'm gonna go 6 days without resupplying so that probably when I'll get on a computer next time.
-Tom

Friday, April 1, 2011

Update from the trail-April Fool's Day 2011

We received an email from David O. of Vancleave, MS who was hiking on the AT with 2 friends-Dave and Rob.  They were hiking the section from Neels Gap to Deep Gap in NC.  Apparently they shared some tuna and tortillas with Tom and Ben.  (They boys had run out of fuel and were eating dry ramen and cold oatmeal. Yum.)  Dave reported that the weather was cold, misty, and wet!  We also heard that the boys were getting along just like brothers do most of the time!  Sounds just like my guys!  Thanks Dave O. for updating us back home.

Posted by Mom

About Me

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Welcome to our blog. Come and visit and get to know my crazy busy family. First there is me, Tammy, also known as the MOM. And then there is Hank-the Dad. We are the proud parents of 5 wonderful and wacky kids. In order of birth-Nicholas, Thomas, Benjamin, Eleanor, and Maxwell. We are a homeschooling family and we love to explore, travel, and create dynamic family traditions and rituals with our children.
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