17 Percent

Ready for the next installment? The title is an allusion to that fact that Traveler has completed approximately 17% of the trail.

March 22, 2008 Iron Mountain Gap to Nolichucky River (19.1 miles)
I was shuttled out early today because of the long distance. It was cold and windy this morning, but warmed up later. The day was sunny making it a great day to hike. Today’s remarkable view was from “Beauty Spot” an open area on a mountain top with gorgeous mountain views (seen below). There is a road to the top so I intend to return there someday with Elaine and a picnic basket.

I was hiking south today so I saw some old friends from the trail. Brakeman and Grasshopper, a married couple I hiked with for 2 days in the Smokies, were doing well and are probably about I day ahead of me. I also had a quick lunch with Virginia Slim and his friend Aaron who is hiking with Slim for 2 days. Slim is having some back problems and thinking of quitting the trail. He says his family is encouraging him to press on because of his weight loss. I wish him well. He has been a good friend and companion on the trail.

March 23, 2008 Spivey Gap to Nolichucky River (11.2 miles)
Today was chilly and sunny making a good hiking day. After the long hike yesterday, this one was comfortably short. No spectacular view area, but I did get some high photos of the Chestoa Bridge over the Nolichucky River where I’ve been staying the past few days. The weather is turning colder tonight with rain and snow predicted for here. I’m taking a rest day tomorrow because of this and hope to resume my hike the next day in the sun. Spring is here. Please pray for warmer weather.

March 24, 2008 Nolichucky River at Erwin, TN
Today is a rest day. The temperature was in the mid 20’s this morning and it snowed lightly until about 2pm. I did some trail grocery shopping, met some more young thru-hikers, read, and napped. A good day for a tired hiker.

March 25, 2008 Carver’s Gap to Iron Mountain Gap (14.0 miles)
Today began badly with 15 degree temperature at the top of Roan Mountain (elevation 6285 ft.)
Had about 3 inches of new snow last night and this covered many icy areas. I fell 3 times in the first 3 miles in spite of my trekking poles because the trail was steep and slick. I bruised my right lower rib area not to mention the damage to my pride. Falls on the trail are scary because you are so isolated from help should you be badly hurt.
The trail improved after about 5 miles and the weather warmed so it was a day that ended well. I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant tonight with about 8 other thru-hikers. All of them are young (early to mid-twenties) and all are enthusiastic about thru-hiking the AT. I leave Nolichucky Hostel tomorrow and will be hiking north from Carver’s Gap beyond Roan Mountain. Have now completed 371.8 miles of the AT with a long way to go. Please continue to pray for my health, safety, strength, and perseverance.

March 26, 2008 Carver’s Gap to US 19E (Mountain Harbor Bed and Breakfast)
Today was a more difficult trail day than I expected. (13.7 miles)
It was cold at Carver’s Gap at 5512 feet, but not much snow was left. My main memory of today’s hike will be the slippery mud which led me to fall twice. No damage done, but I’ve certainly been clumsy on the trail these last 2 days. Great views from Hump Mountain which is a huge bald. Winter has not yet left the AT so I’m going to remain under roof for a few more days. Slack packing is a terrific way to hike!
March 27, 2008 Walnut Mountain Road to US. 19E (10.2 miles)
Today was a beautiful sunny day. I’m about 2500 feet lower in elevation in comparison with yesterday. The morning began at 40 degrees and quickly warmed to the 60’s. The hike itself was less strenuous than any others I’ve done, with gentle slopes and about a 2 mile stretch which bordered the Elk River. The scenery was beautiful. Rain is predicted for tomorrow but the temperature should remain about the same. I’m ready for warmer weather!


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