Monday, 4/6

AT Miles = 20.3 / 228
Other Miles = 0 / 13.7
Total Miles = 20.3 / 241.7

In the morning the rain had stopped, but the wind was still whipping and the temperature was falling. I set out from the shelter with a group of six other hikers with the aim of reaching Tricorner Knob Shelter about 12 and a half miles away. About 10:00 it started snowing, and the temp continued to drop making it very cold walking. We all pushed pretty hard and were at Tricorner Knob about 2:00. After contemplating sitting around in the shelter getting colder and colder all afternoon, we all decided to push on and make the miles to Cosby Knob Shelter. The rest of the day was mostly a march through the blowing snow, and by 5:00pm we all had finished the 20 miles to the shelter. There were already 9 or 10 people at the shelter, which has a capacity of 12. Luckily for us everybody was willing to scrunch together and we managed to fit everybody in by setting up the sleeping pads right next to each other. It snowed all day and was still snowing when we all climbed up into our bunks. I thi
nk we entertained all the weekenders by fantasizing about all the different foods we will get when we finally make it to Hot Springs, probably around Friday.

Allen Freeman

Sunday, 4/5

AT Miles = 15.5 / 205.7
Other Miles = 0.3 / 13.7
Total Miles = 15.8 / 221.4

Food Fantasies!

Today was a beautiful day. Soon after leaving in the morning I made it to the summit of Clingmans Dome. There is a road to the summit and an observation tower, and being Sunday there were lots of tourists about. After leaving Clingmans it was a rather long but pleasant hike down to Newfound Gap. All I really remember about the day was having long never-ending food fantasies. When I reached Newfound Gap I hung out at the parking area and watched the tourists as they watched me. An hour or so later a bunch of other hikers arrived and we spent some time lamenting the lack of a cheeseburger stand there, and discussed the possibility of getting a ride into Gatlinburg to gorge on fast food then getting a ride back to the trail. Instead, we eventually just saddled up and hiked the remaining 3 miles into Icewater Springs Shelter.

It was still gorgeous weather when we arrived, and I went down to the spring and washed up, then stuck some of my wet laundry out to dry in the sun. An hour or so later the clouds started to roll in, and the wind started to pick up.

Some time after we went to bed the wind picked up another notch, and the rain started. I've never experienced rain like this before. It came down so hard and the wind was so strong that the shelter asctually shook, even though it was made of stone.

Allen Freeman

Saturday, 4/4


AT Miles = 14.7 / 192.2
Other Miles = 0 / 13.4
Total Miles = 14.7 / 205.6

It was still windy and cold this morning, but all the clouds had blown out and the sky was crystal clear. I ate a quick breakfast of cold cereal, packed up my gear, took off all my nice warm clothes, and headed up the trail. It was a gorgeous morning. The temp was just a bit below freezing and I could see a big puff of frost with every breath. Last night's fog had frozen to the trees and the branches sparkled in the early morning sunlight.

After all the rain and fog lately, it was absolutely glorious to look out and see the grand views. A bunch if us reached Rocky Top about the same time and hung out for a good hour just enjolying the view.

My "hiker appetite" really hit me today and I have been craving food all the time. I just finished eating dinner and I am hungry enough to do it all over again at least twice. The same thing is happening to other hikers and we spend great amounts of time talking about food.

The terrain here is steeper and the climbs longer than the terrain further south, and it takes me longer to coiver distances. I didn't get into the shelter tonight until almost 5:00, making a 9 hour "work day" today. It warmed up nicely in the afternoon so once into the shelter I was able to wash up and I feel much cleaner. Lots of hikers don't bother until the hit town, but it makes me a lot more comfortable at night.

Tomorrow morning we'll climb to the top of Clingmans Dome, at 6643' the highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail. It's all downhill from there!

We have a full house here tonight, with the shelter full and several tents and hammocks outside.

Tomorrow's weather should be good, the the rain comes in tomorrow night and Monday and Tuesday are supposed ti be very cold, with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens. Sir Richard, a British hiker, is hoping to see snow. I'm just hoping to stay reasonably comfortable.
Allen Freeman

Friday, 4/3

AT Miles = 13.8 / 177.5
Other Miles = 0 / 13.4
Total Miles = 13.8 / 190.9

When I went to bed last night I had pretty much decided to take a zero at Fontana Dam, but apparently sometime while I was sleepibg I decided not to. I woke up about 3:30 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep because my mind was full of all the things I still had to do before I would be ready to head out. So, I got up and washed out my bandanas (I have three, one for washing my body, one for washing my dishes, and one I keep in my pocket all day for wiping away sweat, dirt, etc.), I moved the socks I had washed last night, but were still wet, so that they were sitting on the heater so they would dry fast. I finished up those ands a bunch iof oither little chores, then at 6:00am I headed up to the main lodge and used the public computer to upload my photos so you all could enjoy them. When the restaurant opened at 7:30, I had a great breakfast, then headed back to my room and finished up my bounce box, grabbed my pack and trekking poles, took one last look around the room to ma
ke sure I hadn't left anything, then headed up to check out and to get a shuttle bacxk to the trail.

It was heavily overcast and very windy, but it wasn't raining and I actually got a few photos of the dam as I walked across. Once across the dam I walked into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That was exciting.

The trail climbed steeply and it quickly got colder and wetter and cloudier. It seemd to take forever to get anywhere. Finally I arrived at the shelter and it was one of the old fashioned ones with the chain-link fence across the front and a gate that could be latched at night when everybody is in for the night.

It was wickedly cold with the wind blowing. I had my doubts that the water for dinner would ever boil on my wimpy little alcohol stove, but eventually it did. I managed to stay awake for a decent interval after supper, standing around in the shelter talking with other hikers, then crawled into my nice warm sleeping bag around 8:00 as the sun went down.

Allen Freeman

More Photos

Comments off

I just uploaded the photos I took between Franklin and Fontana Dam.
Again, there aren’t that many because the weather was often wet and I
kept thwe camera buried in the dry part of my pack.

It’s dark and ominous outside today with winds of 25 – 35 miles an
hour with gusts to 45, but I think I am going to head out anyway. Wish
me luck!

Allen F. Freeman

Thursday, 4/2

AT Miles = 12.7 / 163.7
Other Miles = .3 / 13.4
Total Miles = 13 / 177.1

It was a wonderful evening last night, and when I went to bed about
8:30 the stars were starting to shine and the moon was visible. It
even stayed a bit too warm overnight and I had trouble sleeping
because I was too warm in my sleeping bag.

Then when I woke up this morning, the clouds had rolled back in. It
was gray and overcast, but it wasn't actually raining. I ate a quick
breakfast of Grape Nuts cereal and some Instant Breakfast, packed my
gear up and hit the trail about 8:00am. It was pleasant enough hiking,
but nothing spectacular or photo worthy. I was hoping to get some
shots of Fontana Dam from above as the trail approached it, but by the
time I got there it was raining rather steadily and the fog had rolled
back in. I did get a shot or two sort of through the trees as the fog
ebbed and flowed. I don't know whether they will be any good or not.
Yesterday morning while I was climbing out of the Nantahala River
Gorge and passing by the overlooks, it was also raining and foggy and
I could see absolutely nothing. When I got to Cheoah Bald, which is
purported to have nice views, it was still foggy. Half an hour later
the sky cleared and the sun shone and it was a summer day. It seems
the weather is clear whenever there isn't all that much to see.

I am still pondering whether to get back on the trail tomorrow or take
a zero here at Fontana. My legs and feet are pretty tired and once I
leave here I have at least 8 solid, tough days to get through the
Smokies. I've checked the weather forecast and it looks like a mixture
of sunny and overcast days with some chance of rain every couple of
days. Some days call for temps in the 70s, but others have highs in
the 40s and overnight lows in the 20s. I am going to have to load up
on food and warm clothing. Another day of rest sounds like a better
and better idea; still, I am waffling.

I am super hungry so I guess I am going to head into the restaurant
and have something to eat.

Allen F. Freeman

NOC to Brown Fork Gap

Comments off

Wednesday, 4/1

AT Miles = 16.0 / 151
Other Miles = 0.1 / 13.1
Total Miles = 16.1 / 164.1

I had a good night at the NOC last night. After hanging around in the common room of the hostel for a couple of hours chatting with other hikers, I headed back to my bunk to sleep figuring I would be woken up when the heavy drinkers came to bed later in the night, but apparently I slept through their entrance as the next thing I knew it was morning.

It rained all night and was still raining when I walked back across the river to the restaurant for breakfast at 8:00am. When I left the restaurant and started hiking about 8i:50 the rain was tapering off but was still heavy enough that I hiked in my rain gear.

It took a few minutes of exploring to figure out where the trail left the NOC parking lot, but I finally found the place where it crossed the railroad tracks and headed up the hill.

It was a tough day. I only covered 16 miles but this 16 miles included a LOT of steep climbing. The first 6 miles were all uphill and the next 10 miles were a constant up and down. At the beginning of the day I figured I would be done by 4:00, but in actuality I didn't arrive here until after 5:00, totally spent.

The first half of the day was rainy or overcast, and I hiked in the heavy fog I have become so used to, but about 1:00pm the sun finally burned through and the rest of the day felt more like summer than early spring. Right now it is just gorgeous out, except for a few annoying gnats. It will be dark in an hour and I still have to go through the frustrating ritual of hanging my food bag.

Tomorrow should be a relatively easy 12 miles into Fontana Dam. I should be able to get there in early afternoon and have plenty of time to get a ride into town and collect all my packages, then retreat to a motel room where I can sort through my food and gear and figure out what I need for the next leg in the Smokies. Whatever I don't need I'll bounce* further up the trail. I still haven't decided whether I will zero in Fontana or head back out on Friday.

* Jargon Alert:
There is a subculture around hiking the Appalachian Trail, and like any subculture it has its own lingo; a handy way to tell the insiders from the outsiders. Here's a short primer in case I slip some trail lingo into my posts:

– Thru-hiker: Someone who hikes the entire trail in one year

– Section Hiker: Someone who hikes the trail in multiple shorter chunks, often over many years

– NOBO: Northbounder (like me), someone who hikes the trail from south to north

– SOBO: Southbounder

– GAME: GA to ME; same as NOBO

– MEGA: ME to GA; same as SOBO

– Zero or Zero Day: A day in which you hike zero miles; a day off. Can be a noun or a verb. "I will take a zero on Friday" or "I will zero on Friday."

– Bounce box: A box used to mail things you don;'t need right now to a town further up the trail. I have a bounce box waiting for me in Fontana Dam that has some of my warmer clothes in it, as well as the charger for my camera battery. I mailed it from Hiawassee because I knew I wouldn't need those things for this part of the hike.

Allen Freeman

Cold Spring Shelter to NOC

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Tuesday, 3/31

AT Miles = 11.5 / 135
Other Miles = 0 / 13
Total Miles = 11.5 / 147.9

It was a cold night last night. Okay, it wasn't any colder than several other nights I've camped on this trip, but my own absent-mindedness made it a cold night. As you know, I sleep in a camping hammock. In a hammock you need insulation under you, as the cold air curculates underneath the hammock. I have my hammock set up with a double bottom, with the outer layer made of silnylon so it is waterproof and more or less windproof. Between the two layers I have an open cell foam pad that is made for the Hennessy Hammock and provides insulation. The OCF pad has small elastics on either side that attach to the edge of the hammock and aligns it correctly so that it is positioned under the part of the hammock where I lie.On either end it has long elastics which attach to the hammock suspension line on the head end and the foot end. These elastics hold the OCF pad up against the hamm,ock bottom tightly, so there is no air space between the hammock bottom and the OCF pad. Well, when setting
up the hammock I attached the side elastics, but I never attached the elastics on the ends. Duh! I woke up about 4:00am this morning with my back and butt very chnilled. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why, so I just suffered through it until it was light enough to get up about 7:00. Only then did I realize my mistake, which left a gap between the insulating pad and ther hammock, and let cold air in to chill me.

Lately I have been eating a cold breakfast rather than using the time and fuel to heat water and make tea and oatmeal, so after eating my Grape Nuts with powdered milk, and drinking an Instant Breakfast, also mixed with powdered milk, I packed up and was on the trail about 8:15. After pushing kind of hard yesterday to make 16 miles, I took it easy today. It was a cool, damp, overcast day, and hiking felt really good; generating enough heat to make me comfortable hiking in shorts and a T-Shirt.

A couple of brief rain showers passed over a couple of hours into my hike, and since I was just passing by the Wesser Bald Shelter, I stopped there about 10:30 and ate an early lunch of English Muffins with peanut butter under cover, and I also rigged my pack for the rain. The rain stopped in a few minujtes and it didn't rain again the rest of my hike.

Abolut an hour later I reached the top of the ridge overlooking the Nantahala Gorge and the Nantahala River. The view was quite impressive, though I don't know if the pictures I took will look like it since it was a very flat, gray day and it may just look like a dull, featureless, gray mass.

From here the rest of the hike was downhill, which is murder on my feet. I'd rather climb all day than descend! I finally reached the bottom around 1:30 and came out at the Nantahala Oudoor Center, directly opposite the outfitters store. I had a mail-drop scheduled here so I wen in and inquired after my package, and sure enough when they checked the book it showed that they had 1 package for Allen Freeman. The clerk went to retrieve it for me and when he returned I found to my surporise that the bos was not from home (the box with my food for the next two days to Fontana Dam) , but rather iot was from a friend out in California. I asked the clerk to double-check, but that was the only package for me.

I took the heft surprise package in hand, and after getting directions I set off to register for a bunk in the hostel, then got to my assigned place and opened my package to find a huge array of snacks and supplies. It was like Christmas morning and I wastede nol time in pawing through it pulling out, first, all the food, and then going back and picking out akk the most useful supplies. The box must have weighed 10 pounds and there is no way I can take all of its contents, but I have offered the largesse to the othjer hikers here tonight and the box is well on its way to being emptied.

After opening my surprise package, but before taking a shower, I called Jodi and asked her about the package she mailed to me here, only to find out that I screwed up communications and Jodi didn't realize she was supposed to mail anything. That being the case, all the little goodies in my surporise box are going to come in very handy, as they are going to provide the base, along with some odds and ends left in my food bag and a couiple of Pop-Tarts I bought at the store here, of my diet for the next couple of days until I get to Fontana Dam and my next mail-drop.

So now I've showered, washed out my socks, and had a meal and a couple of beers at the restaurant. Tomorrow morning I'll have a big breakfast in the restaurant (I checked and they open at 8:00), then make my climb out of thee gorge (3,000 feet in six miles of steady climbing) and be on my way towards Fontana Dam.I may get into Fontana on Thursday afternoon.If not, then I should get there early on Friday, in plenty of time to get a ride into town and pick up my package at the post office beofre they close at 4:30. From Fontana Dam, I'll enter the Great Smoku Mountains National Park. That's exciting!

So, a special thanks to my anonymous benefactor. Yes Monique, that's you. (Did you enjoy your brief anonymity?) All kidding aside, that was an overwhelming array of goodies you packed. I am stunned by the effort you must have put into it. I promise you that every last item will be gratefully used by me or some other hiker.

Finally, a special note to Bogey and Slim, if you are reading this: I ate breakfast at the Baptist Church in Franklin yesterday morning, and saw your signatures on the wall for the class of 2008!

Allen Freeman

Monday, 3/30

AT Miles = 15.8 / 123.5
Other Miles = 0 / 13
Total Miles = 15.8 / 136.4

I enjoyed my zero day in Franklin yesterday, but by the end of the day yesterday I was itching to get back out on the trail.

I was awake early this morning. I think I actually sleep better in my hammock than I do in a bed in a motel room. The Baptist church in Franklin does breakfast for hikers every day for about three weeks during thru-hiker season, and their van picked up a bumch of us at the motel about 7:15. They drove us to the church and served us pancakes, bacon, coffee, cocoa, and orange juice. They had us back at the motel before 8:30 and Ron Haven showed up with his old school bus to drive us back up to the trail in Winding Stair Gap a few minutes after 9:00, so I was on the trail a few minutes past 9:30.

Last night was cold, qand it even snowed a bit up in the mountains. There was still a bit of snow on the ground in the shade. I climbed Siler Bald and Wayah Bald. There is a tower up on Wayah Bald and the views were tremendous. It was so nice to see something other than the inside of a cloud!

Right now I am sitting around The fire ring while a couple of other hikers try to start a fire, and we are all chatting about a multitude of topics. Tomorrow looks like a rather easy 12 miles into the Nantahala Ouitdoor Center, where there should be a package from Jodi with a couple days of food. I'll get a good restaurant meal there. I still haven't decided whether I will stay there tomorrow night or not. I need to make it to Fontana Dam before the post office there closes at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, as all my supplies for the stretch of trail through ther Smokies will be there. If I don't get there in time I will have to wait until the post office opens on Monday.

Oh, I saw a deer today. That makes my wildlife sightings so far a couple of rabbits, a snake, plenty of squirrels, and a plethora of birds I can't identify.

Allen Freeman

Thursday, 3/26

AT Miles = 11.8 / 79.3
Other Miles = 0.4 / 13.0
Total Miles = 12.2 / 92.2

I woke up around 5:30 this morning and after showering I turned on the TV and watched the morning news program which today was all weather all the time. A big weather system was moving into the area and the forecast called for lots of rain and high winds in yjr north Georgia mountains. They were also reporting that a likely tornado had touched down over in Alabama early this morning.

In spite of all this, I was bored with hanging out in town and decided to head back out on the trail. The rain is forecast to contine for the next three days and I can't very well hide in town every time the weather gets bad.

So, at 8:30 I was on the shuttle back up to Dicks Creek Gap, and at 8:50 I was standing out in the rain strapping my pack to my back and heading up the trail.

The rain continued rather heavy for the first hour and a half or so, thern it tapered off. It is nowhere near clear, though. The mountains are right up in the cloud and visibility is only about 15 yards or so. It is very damp and chilly. I hiked with my raqin jacket and my new rain wrap (alright, alright; it's a skirt).

Around 1:00PM I hiked out of Georgia and into North Carolina. One state down and 13 to go! About a tenth of a mile later I reached Bly Gap (somehow the trail goes UP into the Gap) and the gnarled old tree that grows there and is seen in so many thru-hikers' photo albums.

The introduction to North Carolina is a tough one, as the trail climbs and climbs and climbs. Finally, around 3:00PM, I reached Muskrat Creek Shelter. The shelter is full, but I sleep in my hammock anyway so I don't care. I only want the shelter for a drfy place to cook aqnd eat and write this journal.

It's only a bit after 4:00 now, but I am going to make dinner soon, then retreat to my hammock and read before going to bed.

Oh! When I got here someone said to me "Hey Monkeywrench, there was Monkeywrewnch book (The Monkeywrench Gang) back at the last shelter." Darn. I was just thinking today that I'd like to get a paperback version so I could re-read that book on my hike.

I better quit now. My fingers aqre getting stiff with cold.

Allen Freeman


Comments off

I took only a very few photos on the last leg of my hike since it was
raining all the time and the camera was buried deep inside my pack in
the dry bag along with my clothes and the other electronics. The few
pictures I did take are here:

Allen F. Freeman

Friday 3/27 and Saturday 3/28

AT Miles = 12.5 / 91.8
Other Miles = 0 / 13
Total = 12.5 / 104.7

AT Miles = 15.9 / 107.7 (I've passed the 100 mile mark!)
Other Miles = 0 / 13
Total Miles = 15.9 / 120.6

These posts are going to be a bit out of order. I have a post for
Thursday, the 26th, on my phone but for some reason Sprint has no
service in Franklin, NC, where I am tonight, so I can't send it. I'll
send it as soon as I get service again.

As a brief re-cap, I left Hiawassee, Georgia Thursday morning in the
rain, and on Thursday afternoon passed into North Carolina.

I am going to combine Friday and Saturday as they kind of blend
together in my mind. I left Muskrat Creek Shelter Friday morning after
a soggy night. It didn't actually rain overnight, but the humidity was
about 100% as we were in thick cloud all night. The tarp over my
hammock kept any rain and the water dripping from the trees off of me,
but the saturated air flowing through the hammock left everything very

Sometime during the night some animal ran under my hammock and I
actually felt him or her rub against the bottom of the hammock – and
my back – as it passed. There were some people sleeping in the shelter
that had a dog, so I think odds are it was the dog, but I'm not sure.
Mr. Ed thought it was funny to think it was a bear cub teasing his
mom. I hope not!

I started the day on Friday dressed for rain (shorts and T-Shirt with
rain jacket and rain skirt over them). After an hour or so it was not
raining and I was warming up so I took off the rain jacket and wrap.
Of course, about 15 minutes later it started to rain, and rained all
the rest of the day. After a long day of walking through the rain I
made it to Carter Gap Shelter. It was only about 3:00 PM, and I used
up as much time as I could getting water, cooking and eating dinner,
and cleaning up. It was cold standing around in wet clothes so about
5:30 I found a spot tucked behind some rhododendron bushes and out of
the wind to set up my hammock, then changed into dry clothes and
climbed in with my book. I managed to stay awake almost 'til 8:00PM,
then I was off to dream land. Just before I went to sleep I glanced
away from my book and out the netting of my hammock to see a rabbit
wandering through. I guess the hammock just doesn't register to
animals, since it's up in the air off the ground.

This morning (Saturday) I was awake about 6:00 and lay in my hammock
until about 6:30 when the first bit of light started to show itself. I
was up with my headlamp to eat breakfast and break camp, then I was
off on the trail at 8:08 (I usually glance at my watch every morning
when I start to hike). When I woke up this morning I decided that my
goal for the day was to get to Winding Stair Gap and get a ride into
Franklin, so I could have a hot shower, a dry motel room, and a nice
dinner. Within 20 minutes of starting my hike the rain started, and it
got heavier and heavier as the morning progressed. I was set on making
my miles, but I was also enjoying the day and the bits of scenery I
could see. As any of the photographers out there know, when it is
raining colors and very saturated and the diffuse light makes details
very interesting. There were a million shades of green. In a few
places there was a particular kind of tree that grows kind of short
and gnarly, and the trees were all covered with a green moss that was
very striking.

I stopped briefly at Big Spring Shelter, 6.8 miles from the day's
start, just to get out of the rain so I could dig some food out of my
pack. It was too cold to stand still for very long so after wolfing
down a couple of Pop-Tarts I was back out into the rain and pressed on
non-stop until I reached Winding stair Gap at 15.9 miles.

When I was maybe 4 miles from Winding Stair Gap the rain started to
ease and I could see some breaks in the clouds to the west. Soon the
wind was roaring as the high pressure started to push in, and the
cloud and fog that had enveloped us for the last three days started to
get torn away in shreds. When I finally reached Winding Stair Gap it
was 2:14, meaning that I had covered 15.9 miles in 6 hours and 6
minutes. My feet surely feel it!

I was offered a ride into town by someone at the Gap, and 15 or 20
minutes later I was chatting with Ron Haven and Miss Janet, two
legends on the trail who run a couple of motels and a hostel in town
and go to great lengths to extend hospitality to hikers. I have a room
in one of Ron's motels for tonight and tomorrow night. I'll spend
tomorrow (Sunday) getting all my gear clean and dry and shopping for
food for the next leg, which will be 2 1/2 days up to the Nantahala
Outdoor Center.

Allen F. Freeman

Tuesday, 3/24 & Wednesday, 3/25

AT Miles = 11 / 67.5
Other Miles = 0.2 / 12.6
Total Miles = 11.2 / 80.0

As I write this it is Wednesday afternoon and I am relaxing in a room at the Hiawassee Inn in Hiawassee Georgia.

Yesterday morning I woke up in my hammock at Tray Mountain Shelter. It had been a very windy night with a heavy fog, and the trees were dripping big fat drops of water on the tarp of my hammock.

I had visions of a hot shower and a big grinder for lunch dancing in my head, so I wasted no time in eating breakfast and packing my gear. By 8:20 I was headed back up the side trail to the AT. (8:20 may not sound like an early start, but Georgia is much further west than Boston is, so the sun comes up nearly an hour later hereabouts.)

It was only 11 miles to the road crossing in Dicvks Creek Gap, but there were a couple of very stiff climbs along the way. It was also a warm and rather muggy day.

I passed a place named "Swag of the Blue Ridge". I've no idea what this name refers to. It looked like any other gap between two peaks, a multitude of which I walk through every day. On my map it is labeled "Blue Ridge Swag." If I get internet access again soon I'll try googling it, or maybe one of my readers could do that and let me know via a comment to this post.

So, I climbed Kelly Knob, descended into Deep Gap, and them back up to Powell Mountain. Finally, I started the long descent into Dicks Creek Gap.

I arrived at the Gap at 1:00PM. There was a local there who asked if I was planning to go into town. When I told him I was he offered to drive me for either $7 or a joint. I told him I thought I would try my luck at hitching instead. It took a total of 3 passing cars and 11 minutes before I got a ride from a gentleman who dropped me off right at the driveway to the motel.

I didn't do much Tuesday afternoon except shower, wash my laundry (NASTY socks!), and eat.

Today, Wednesday, I walked up Main Street almost a mile to find a diner for breakfast, then I walked to the grocery store and bought food for the next 3 – 4 day leg up to Winding Stair Gap and Franklin, NC, about 40 trail miles away. After the grocery store I stopped at the post office and picked up my 20 degree sleeping bag that I asked Jodi to send to me here.

With all my packages in hand I came back to my room, then after leaving everything here I walked up to the library so I coukd post my photos. The link to those in in the previous blog entry. On my way out to walk to the library I ran into Jersey Girl who was also here last night, but I didn't know it. She is heading out of town to stay at the Blueberry Patch hostel tonight. While I was at the library I ran into Leatherfoot. It looks like we'll all be back on the trail tomorrow.

When I left the library it was raining heavily, but it is a short walk back to my motel. Once back, I packed up my zero degree sleeping bag, which has had me roadting every night so far, so I could mail it back home to Jodi. I also made up another box of some of my heaviest clothing, along with some sp;are food and other odds and ends, so that I could mail it to myself at Fontana Dam, just before I enter the Smokies. All that done, I walked back to the post office to send my packages, then stopped at a mini-mart to buy a local paper, and the Subway shop next door for another grinder for luinch.

I love reading small town newspapers. The lead headline is a three page article about the new school gymnasium being built, which notes that at its tallest point it is 36 feet high, and is accomnpanied by several photos to show the progress of construction.

The weather forecast includes a wind advisory until tomorrow night. I guess if the weather is really nasty tomorrow I could head up to the hostel for the night. If not, I'll be b\ack on the trail tomorrow. It's supposed to rain on and off through Saturday.

The North Carolina border is only 9 miles away, so I will soon have completed one state. I look at short-term goals like that because thinking of 2000+ miles or six months is just too daunting. I should be in Franklin, NC either Saturday or Sunday.

Allen Freeman


Comments off

I got to the library in Hiawassee this morning and uploaded the photos
I have taken so far. These are from the section from Amicalola Falls
State Park to Hiawassee, Georgia. They are located here:

Allen F. Freeman

Monday, 3/23

AT Miles = 7.8 / 56.5
Other Miles = .3 / 12.3
Total Miles = 8.1 / 68.8

After yesterday's tough workout I slept a bit late this morning and was almost the last one to leave camp this morning. The day started with a couple of hard climbs, and I was not predicting where I might end up at the end of the day.

The climb out of Unicoi Gap was a tough one, then I crossed Rocky Mountain and descended down into Indian Grave Gap, then up and over until I climbed down into Tray Gap. In Tray Gap there was a man named Bill who had set up a gas grill and was cooking cheesebrgers for all the hikers. He also had a couple of coolersa full of soda, and some folding chairs so we could sit and relax while eating.

I sat there for well over an hour chatting with Bill about marathoning, and he told me he is heading up to Boston in a couple weeks to run the Boston Marathon.

After finally saying goodbye to Bill I struck out up Tray Mountain. At the summit there was a great view down into the valley where Hiawassee is.

Now I am at Tray Mountain Shelter. There are four other hikers here, Jersey Girl, John Nascar, Turtle, and Leather Foot. Oh, I don't think I've mnentioned it yet, but a couple of days ago I was dubbed with the trailname of MonkeyWrench, due to the monkeywrench flag that flies from the suspension line of my hammock.

I got into camp at around 2:00pm and have enjoyed a lazy afternoon. Now we have a little fire going and are sitting around chatting until it's time to go to bed, which will be in about an hour or so.

Tomorow I have 11 miles to hike to Dicks Creek Gap. From there I will hitchhike into Hiawassee and hopefully get a room at the Hiawassee Inn for a couple of nights. A lot of hikers are heading for the Blueberry Patch Hostel, but I am feeling like partaking of some luxury so am opting for a motel room.

I hope to get internet access at the library on Wednesday, so that I can upload my photos. Once I do I'll post a link here so you'll know.

Allen Freeman

Sunday, 3/22

AT Miles = 18 / 48.7
Other Miles = 2.5 / 12
Total = 20.5 / 60.7

Staying at the hostel at Neels Gap was a nice break from hiking. I don't sleep very well in a bunk room with a bunch of other people, some of whom inevitably snore, but the comraderie with the other hikers staying there made up for the lack of sleep.

Here's something for you, Denis. On Saturday evening we were watching "Deliveranbce" in the hostel common room while Pirate, the hostel caretaker, was wearing a shirt that said "HIKE FASTER, I hear banjo music."

I left Neels Gap at 7:30 Sunday morning and settled into a nice rythm climbing out of Neels Gap, enjoying the early morning sounds. When I was a half hour out of the Gap, maybe a mile and a quarter, I finally realized that the hat that was supposed to be atop my head was instead still hanging on a hook in the bunkroom back at the hostel. There was nothing to do except turn around and head back down. That little misadventure added about an extra 2 1/2 miles to my day. My Dad used to tell me that just because my head came to a point didn't necessarily mean I was sharp. I guess he was right.

My destination for the day was Low Gap Shelter, but I arrived there at 1:45, which was too early to stop, so I decided to keep walking until 4:00pm and see where I was.

As it turned out where I was at 4:00pm was on a beautiful piece of trail, but there was no water so I had to keep going until I reached Blue Mountain Shelter at around 5:00pm. Blue Mountain is 18 miles from Neels Gap. Adding in the extra 2.5 miles I walked to retrieve my hat, I hiked a total of 20.5 miles, my first ever 20 miler!

Allen Freeman

For Cassie

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This one is for Cassie, since she wished a blister upon me! Love you too Cassie.

Allen Freeman

Slaughter Creek to Neels Gap

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Saturday, 3/21

AT Miles = 3.2 / 30.7
Other Miles = 0 /9.5
Total Miles = 3.2 /40.2

Well, I masnaged to spend the night at a place named Slaughter Creek on the slope of Blood Mountain, and seem to have escaped with all limbs intact.

It was a cold night last night. Slaughter Creek is in a gap and the wind was roaring through. I finished dinner and had all my gear stored away by 7:00, and even though there was an hour of daylight left, I crawled into my hammock to get warm. I spent some time reading and listening to my little radio, then once the sun set I was off to sleep.

The wind never let up and the temperature must have fallen to just below freezing. There were ice crystals in some of the frozne mud along the trail first thing this morning, but it wasn't cold enough for any of the water in my bottles to freeze.

I got up a couple of times during the night and could see the lights inb the town of Dahlonega down in the valley below.

Todasy's hike was a quick 3.2 miles over Blood Mountain and down iknto Neels Gap. There is an outfitter and a hiker hostel in the gap right where the trail passes. In fact, the trail actually passes through a breezeway between the 2 buildings.

I've bought enough food for the next four days, which should get me to Dicks Creek Gap from where I will hitch into Hiawassee to picvk up my other sleeping bag that Jodi is mailing to me, and I will stock up for the next leg.

There was a group here cooking burgers for all the hikers, and after three of those my stomach feels quite happy.

I was hoping for internet access here so I could upload the photos I've taken so far, but it doesn't look like they have it so that will probably have to wait until Hiawassee, four days from now.

Allen Freeman

Friday, 3/20

AT Miles = 12.5 / 27.6
Other Miles = 0 / 9.5
Total Miles = 12.5 / 37.1

I like mornings. In the morning everything is quiet. The air is cool, the birds are singing, and the early morning light shows the world at its best. Also, in the morning my feet don't hurt.

I thoroughly enjoyed cruising along the trail this morning. I even saw one tree showing the first buds of spring. I think it is going to be great watching spring arrive day by day.

The spring equinox arrived at 11:44 this morning, and I greeted it seated at an overlook on Big Cedar Mountain in the Blood Mountain Wilderness area. What could be better?

By noon time my feet were starting to ache, and then the day turned a bit into just "getting there". But now I am cozily set up on the west side of the ridge near Slaughter Creek. How's that for a name to lull you to sleep at night?

It is getting quite chilly this evening so I think I will crawl into my hammock and read or listen to my little radio. It should be a great night for sleeping.

Tomorrow I have only 3.2 miles into Neels Gap. I think I will get there early, get a bunk in the hostel, and relax for the bulk of the day. I will buy supplies for the next four days there, which will get me to Hiawassee, GA.

Allen Freeman

Thursday, 3/19

AT Miles = 12.3 / 15.1
Other Miles = 0.7 / 9.5
Total Miles = 13.0 / 24.6

While hiking today I kept thinking of things I wanted to talk about today, but now, at the end of a tiring day, I can't think of any of them.

It was another beautiful day. I actuakky wish it weren't so sunny, as there are no leaves on the trees yet and I am getting a bit burnt.

The day started off by hiking along old roadbeds that folowed Stover Creek, and it was tyhe perfect way to ease into the day. The first seven miles were easy, gentle walking. Then, after sucking me in to a complacent mood, the trail threw Sassafras and Justus Mountains at me. They were both steep and gave me a good workout. I definitely earned my dinner tonight!

When I got to Cooper Gap, between Sassafras and Justus Mountains, a previous thru-hiker with the trailname of The Prophet, along with his dog Noah, was parked at the road crossing with his pickup truck and giving out Dr Pepper and Budweiser. I didn't think a beer would be a good idea with a steep climb facing me, so I settled for a Dr Pepper (wouldn't you like to be a pepper too…).

The shelter and campsite tonight is jam packed; there are 11 hikers in the shelter and 7 or 8 tents pitched around the shelter.

Just as I was cooking my dinner tonight a brief shower rolled through, but the sun is out again now and it is a beautiful evening. I hear there is a 30% chance of rain tonight, so I'll be sure to get everything rigged for rain before going to bed.

I am now 15.1 miles from Neels Gap, whichis my next resupply. There is a hostel there as well. I thinjk I will stop a few miles short of Neels tomorrow night, then get in to Neels early on Saturday. I can then do my shopping, check out the hostel and decide if I want to stay over or keep heading up the trail. That way if I do stay over I'll hyave most of the day to relax.

Allen Freeman

Stover Creek Shelter

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Wednesday 3/18
AT Miles = 2.8
Other Miles = 8.8
Total Miles = 11.6

Today was a perfect day to start a thru-hike. After days and days of rain, today was warm and sunny with a bit of haze. After a hearty breakfast at the Hikers Hostel in Dahlonega, six hikers piled into the truck to be shuttled to the trail. Only two of us had chosen to hike the Approach Trail from Amicalola Falls State Park. The trail starts at the stone arch behind the Visitors Center, then follows the paved trail up along the falls, which includes seven hundred and something stairs. Whew!

After I got out of the state park the trail turned quiet and lovely. It is quite different than New England, which I think of as mud, roots, and rocks. Here the trail was dry and smooth for easy walking. It was only the elevation gain that made the hiking hard.

I left Amicalola Falls at about 10:20 and arrived at the summit of Springer Mountrain at 1:50, much faster than I expected. I hadn't yet picked a final goal for the day. I could have stopped at the Springer Mountrain Shelter just 0.2 miles from the summit, but with about 6 hours of daylight left it seemed that pushing on a little further made sense, so I continued on the 2.8 miles to here, Stover Creek Shelter.

It's about 6:30 now. We've got blue skies and a gentle breeze, and the evening is starting to cool off. My hammock is hung out behind the shelter, and I think it is going to be wonderful sleeping weather tonight; fresh and chilly.

There is a fire going started by one of the3 other hikers. There are a half dozen hikers in the shelter, a few in tents 50 yards away, and me in my hammock.

The weather forecast I saw this morning before leaving the hostel called for a 30% chance of rain tomorrow, then sunny and warm for the rest of the week.

While hiking today I was thinking that so far this feels like just another weekend hiking trip. I wonder how long it will be before it starts transitioning from a hiking trip into a life-style.

Allen Freeman

Not all that much to say today. The flight from Boston to Atlanta went off as scheduled, my backpack was not lost, I did not get turned around navigating the MARTA train, the shuttle from the hostel was only a few minutes late, and I arrived here safe, sound, and in possession of all of my stuff. What more can one ask?

The hostel is full of excited hikers ready to start their trips in the morning, as well as a few who have been out for a few days and are off the trail for a break.

The weather is wonderful, in the 70s and sunny. I hope this weather holds for a few days.

That's all for now.

Allen Freeman

Adventure’s Eve

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Months ago I added a countdown timer to my desktop, set to count down
until the time my flight leaves Boston bound for Atlanta. At the time
I put it up the day counter contained three digits. Now, the day
counter is down to zero. There are 15 hours, 39 minutes, and 27
seconds left until my flight is scheduled to take off at 9:05 tomorrow
morning. The next time you hear from me, I'll be in Georgia.

I have been watching the weather in the north Georgia mountains. It's
been rainy through the weekend, but the sun is supposed to come out
tomorrow, and it looks like mostly clear and reasonably warm weather
through the coming weekend. That means I should enjoy good weather my
first few days on the trail!

Allen F. Freeman

The Blue Hills

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I have been spending my time this week taking care of all the little last-minute details that need to be taken care of before I leave for Georgia. Things like laying in a supply of the foods I eat on the trail so that Jodi won’t have to do all the shopping in order to send me my mail-drops, making sure all the things that use batteries have fresh batteries in them, and making sure all the things that need to be charged are fully charged.

I have also been getting out to hike in the Blue Hills reservation as often as I can. I have my backpack packed with all the gear I plan to start my hike with, so I am hiking with all of my equipment, and four days worth of food. It’s a little silly hauling this backpack around on day hikes, but it’s a good way to get my legs used to carrying the extra weight.

The weather has been what you might call “variable” this week. Last Saturday it was in the 60’s, and the mid-50’s on Sunday. Then on Sunday night a winter storm rolled in and it snowed all day on Monday. I skipped hiking on Monday and spent the day tweaking some of my gear.

On Tuesday I was back out in the Blue Hills. It was a beautiful morning with the trees coated in snow and ice. By late morning the sun had warmed everything enough that the snow in the trees was melting and it was like hiking in the rain.

I was out in the Blue Hills again today. It was in the high 20’s when I started around 8::00Am, with a nice cool breeze blowing up to 30 mph. With all thw wind I decided to stay off the ridges and I explored parts of the park I haven’t been in before. Did you know there was a CCC camp in the Blue Hills during the Depression? Well, I didn’t. At least, not until today, when I stumbled upon the site pictured below.

They did some awfully nice rock work, which is now out in the middle of the woods and most people will never see it. It’s kind of a shame.

Mail Drops

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Below is the list of places I will be calling in for mail with the date I expect to arrive at that location. The dates are of course only estimates, and as the projections get further out into the future they are less and less accurate. As the hike progresses I will try to remember to update this schedule to more accurately reflect reality.

April 01, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O NOC Outfitters
13077 Hwy 19W
Bryson City, NC 28713

Please hold forAT hiker ETA 04/01/2009

April 03, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O General Delivery
Fontana Dam, NC 28733

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 04/03/2009

April 09, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O Standing Bear Farm
4255 Green Corner Rd
Hartford, TN 37753

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 04/09/2009

May 02, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O Relax Inn
7253 Lee Hwy
Rural Retreat VA 24368

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 05/02/2009

May 09, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O General Delivery
Pearisburg, VA 24134

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 05/09/2009

June 06, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O Appalachian Trail Conservancy
799 Washington St
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 06/06/2009

June 20, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O General Delivery
Port Clinton, PA 19549

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 06/20/2009

June 25, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O General Delivery
Delaware Water Gap, PA 18327

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 06/25/09

July 14, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O General Delivery
Dalton, MA 01226

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 07/14/2009

August 01, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O General Delivery
Glencliff, NH 03238

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 08/01/2009

August 14, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O Pine Ellis B&B
20 Pine St, PO Box 12
Andover, ME 04216

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 08/14/2009

August 27, 2009

Allen Freeman
C/O Shaw’s Lodging
PO Box 72
Monson, ME 04464

Please hold for AT hiker ETA 08/27/2009

Allen F. Freeman