Best photo of my trip.

I drove to Pigeon Forge TN on Thursday March 2nd for a Travel Conference March 3rd-5th. On the 5th I traveled to Erwin TN and stayed overnight at Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel. I arranged for a shuttle to be dropped off where I ended my hike 5 years ago. Near Davenport Gap (at the end of the Smoky Mountains) I-40.

While at my conference, they gave me this little stuffed bear. I really hope this is the extent of seeing bears on this trip

This is the well behaved resident dog at Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel. His name is Jerry Garcia. He wandered in off the trail a couple years ago.

Gregg is behind the counter settling up with the shuttle driver Tom. Location is the Hostel's main desk. This is also a popular stop for hikers to resupply.

My first staircase. First of many. Notice the white blaze on the left of the stairway

I was given a smart water bottle from my friend Joe to carry on my trip. These are suppose to be the lightest. I liked them because they were taller, and I would be able to reach back and get it out of my pack without removing the pack. Well, I left it on the picnic table at Johnny's. When Tom dropped me off here at the trail, I had NO water. Imagine my delight and surprise at my very first Trail Magic. (more later on trail magic). I wasn't going to take the water thinking it was meant for someone else, but there was no note. Inside the white bag was 2 power bars. I didn't need the bars so I left them. I filled my 1 liter bottle that I did have and moved on.

Didn't see may flowers on my trip. First day violets!

Some people call the AT the Green Tunnel. This was a common site. Rhododendrons

The top of Snowbird Mountain was very breezy

Saw quite a few of these. This one was on the top of Snowbird mountain.

At the shelter sites, there are signs telling you where the nearest shelters are going both North and South. Some hikers just stay in the shelters.

This was the Groundhog Creek Shelter. I took a break here and moved on.

Most shelters also have a Privy. This sure beats digging a hole.

The shelter sites also have bear cable sets ups. I just couldn't get a good photo, so I took a photo of the "how to" sign.

Here is my camp for the night. I was cooking dinner. Broccoli fettuccine. End of Day 1, total miles 8.7

Sign along the way

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I saw a few of these memorials on the trail

Little confusing here. Just want to keep moving following the white blazes

There is a place called Max Patch Summit. Beautiful views all around. Yes that is a storm coming. As I took the photo there was quite a breeze and it just started to sprinkle. Lovely place for a picnic on a hot summer day.

Marker at the Max Patch Summit

All the shelters had some sort of contraption that you can hang your backpack from and mice can't get in. This was a variety. Found at Roaring Fork Shelter. Wasn't ready to stop yet. Took a break and moved on.

I am inside my tent inside the Walnut Mountain Shelter. Not really suppose to do that in case someone else comes. There is only room for 6-8 people and their gear in each shelter. I was so cold and the shelter was very breezy and was in need of repair. I left a note that said if anyone came and I was asleep, I would take it down. Fortunately for me, no one came.

It rained all night. Yes that is a tin roof. I also heard mice. When I went to pack my bag up in the morning there was mouse poop in the bottom. Last time for a shelter for me. End of Day 2-12.1 miles

This water was just coming out of the mountain. Someone has placed a Rhododendron leave for ease of filling the water bottles. Some people would then filter the water, some would use drops to purify and some would not treat at all.

There were so many mountains. I went over many of them. All made for great photos.

"Incognito" was taking a break at Deer Park Mountain Shelter. His leg was bothering him. His hiking partner went on in to Hot Springs to resupply and take his zero day. A zero day is a day where you just rest. Take a shower, stay in a hostel, eat at a restaurant, do your laundry, resupply – no hiking.

Leaving "Incognito" on my way to Hot Springs I saw this grave stone just off the trail

It seemed like I could see Hot Springs from miles above. It seemed to take forever. Nothing but going down.

Rock with plaque at the edge of town honoring the Carolina Mountain Club

The trail is marked by white blazes, but while going through this trail town, these blocks are embedded into the sidewalks, so the hikers know where to go.

My shuttle driver Tom suggested when I get to Hot Springs that the very first thing I do is to stop at the Smoky Mountain Diner and order the following: Chicken Fried Steak with gravy, cornbread, fried okra, and mashed potatoes and gravy. I substituted cucumber salad (sorry Tom). Also had a lemonade and ice water. Good choice. He them suggested then to resupply from the Dollar General (which I did).

I stayed at the Springbrook Cottages in Hot Springs. It was nice to have a bed. Day 3 — 13.1 total miles

Leaving Hot Springs, was a nice view. I'm just glad I didn't have to walk across this river.

French Broad River

"Trail Magic" Things just appear when you need them the most. Like the water at the beginning of my hike. I saw this bean dip about 8:00a.m. Wasn't for me. But I'm sure someone needed it. More later….

This is what a blaze looks like. This particular blaze is a double which means the trail will be taking a different direction. Normally there is only one white blaze.

I am climbing out of Hot Springs. This photo was taken near Lover's Leap Rock. Yes, they have one also.

Just in case you forgot what direction you are suppose to be hiking…

Loved the moss lined trail today

Great to see Father and Son hiking together, even if just for a few days.

Coming around the mountain, looking to the other side, you can barely see the trail.

A few little small white flowers hugging the mossy rocks

This was a burned area that I walked through. Not sure if it was from the BIG fire or a controlled burn. There were many of these trees growing from the base

I didn't see any white blazes going across this area. Good thing.

Little pond along the way.

The first thing I thought of here was this was God's trail magic for me today.

Sometimes the trail overlapped on smaller roads

See area photo below

This is the area that the sign was referring to.

I just love the shape of some trees

Walking on a road again. See the double white blaze?

Loren and Michelle. Trail Angels at their finest. I was their first recipient. They are both nurses and were out camping for a few days. Both are wanting to do the AT as a through hike next year. I was planning to take a break here so I stopped for a while and talked with them. They were handing out bite sized candy bars and chips. I had a Twix and Snickers. Thanks Loren and Michelle. They have a child living in a Chicago suburb, hope to see them at Starved Rock sometime.

I'm starting to wonder about all the grave stones

"Jolly" and I camped about 1.5 miles past Spring Mountain Shelter. Jolly isn't his real name. On the AT you acquire a name that everyone refers to you. I received my name the last time I was hiking the trail. My name is "Getaway" Day 4 12.5 total miles

Last night we had thunder and lightning for about 2-3 hours. I stayed dry as a bone. A little chilly, but dry.

Firetower in the distance

This is the Appalachian Trail symbol. Someone had some time and creativity.

Rocks and Roots consistently on the trail. I am aptly reading a book about a 53 year old woman's hike on the AT, called "Footpath my Ass"

At this point there was a sign that gave you a choice of trails. One was a blue blazed trail that said it was a bad weather trail. The other choice was the white blaze that was the good weather trail. Well it was windy but no rain or lightening, so I took the good weather trail. More later….

I do realize these last few photos were spectacular, but the trail was 80% boulders. Should have taken the other trail. This trail really did a number on my feet and legs. There were hikers about 1/2 hour behind me, that reached the shelter about 1/2 hour before me. The temperature had dropped below freezing. It's going to be a long night.

If it was Howard that built that boulder ridge trail, he was quite a guy. Plaque was at one of the view points. Day 5 – Total trail miles 13.9

Jerry Cabin Shelter 3 other hikers stayed in there. I was in my tent. I was done with the mice. I left about 6:30a.m. everyone was still in their bags. This was one of the nicest shelters I've seen on this trip. It had a fireplace inside.

Below freezing last night. These poor Rhododendrons. Wasn't sure what would happen to them. Found out later that the leaves will come back. They are evergreen. Amazing.

Ok, so you think I would have learned my lesson. Did I want to take the regular trail or take the bypass, and bypass the big rocks? I didn't take the bypass trail, but it wasn't as treacherous and dangerous as yesterday.

I saw these signs every time I crossed a road, just as a reminder

These frozen crystals were so amazing looking. They were like frozen hairs lifting the rocks and dirt up. They would droop as they day went on. They had a neat crunching sound when you stepped on them. They generally were on the banks of the trail. At the end of the day I found out it was called hoar frost.

Hoar frost

Very directional

Flint Mountain Shelter. Didn't stay here. Lunched and moved on.

Yes that is snow. It snow flurried all day today.

This stairway got me over a barbed wire fence. I did stop by the Laurel Hostel and picked up a shuttle to my car at Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel. $20, well worth it.

Johnny and Charlotte Shore, owners of Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel. While here this evening one of the fellows that work here (Gregg) cooked chili and cornbread. I was invited to join. What a great place with hospitality. Looking forward to staying again when I pick up where I left off on the trail.

Tried to get a photo of the moon, but there was just too may branches in the way. Day 6- 9.1 total miles.

I stayed in this cabin when my hike was over and leave the next morning. I was originally going to hike 3 more days, but with snow and below freezing temperatures in the forcast – that just wasn't going to happen if I could help it.

I woke up with a blanket of snow on my car.

Total miles on my hike: 69.4. I had a great time. Met some wonderful people. Learned a few things.
I will leave you with this: Life's is Short, Take the Trip, Hike the Hike and eat dessert along the way.