Hiking: Updates from Storm's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike (4/17/16 thru 4/22/16)

Storm (Moe) is making his way through North Carolina on the Appalachian Trail. Here's a look back at his last few days of hiking in his own words:

April 17, 2016

Day 12: We woke up at Top of Georgia Hostel. Bob and his staff were amazing and every thru hiker should stay here. He did a talk at 8:30 about tips to successfully thru hiking. It was really good. We were offered free coffee/tea and homemade muffins in the morning. They were yummy. I took the 8:30 shuttle to Dick's Gap. It was nice to be with the crew again last night. They really are a great group of people.

I boogied again today and made it to plum orchard shelter at a about 11:00 and guess who was there. Timber and Dexter... Yay!!! I haven't seen them since Sucches. I had an early lunch and dried out my feet. Then filtered some water and jumped back on the trail. Then we climbed and boy did we climb. Finally reached the GA/NC border took some pictures and made it to Bly gap. Had to filter water again and stopped at the funky tree and took a picture. Then North Carolina showed what she's made up with a steep horrendous climb over a knob.

Welcome to North Carolina! Ugh. Then another and then another. Finally arriving to the shelter at about 4pm. I practically crawled on my hands and knees to get up the last knob. At the shelter I set up my pad and bag. I was so spent I was so not looking forward to setting up a tent. So I still have yet to be in my tent. Once summer comes I'm sure I'll be in it more often. I walked up to Raven Cliffs and there was an old plane crash. The cliffs offered a fantastic view. Got back to the shelter and ate cold dinner as I didn't wanna cook. The rest of the crew from the hostel are here... Luigi, Tranquility, Timber, Ompi, and Tune up from Gooch shelter. It's nice to be with all the people I have met from the beginning.

April 18, 2016

Woke up at 7am at Muskrat Creek Shelter. Made breakfast and packed up and hit the trail. I was the first one out. The crew left showtime after me. The morning was bluebird skies again and not a cloud in the sky. The weather has been perfect and no rain. Knock on wood that it stays. The trail was good to us today. She gave us a gift after yesterday's horrendous climbs. One slight climb and then a steady downhill to low gap. I shedded all of my layers at low gap to begin the climb up Standing Indian Mt.

The climb followed and all road and very much resembled a climb up Hunter Mt in the Catskills following the old road out of Spructon Valley. Made for an easy climb and I reached the summit at just about 12. No really good views from the summit but you could see nice views through the leaf less trees. The summit stands at 5435 feet. The climb down from Standing Indian was awesome.

Bright sunshine and temps in the 80's it was almost hot. I was just in my running shorts still ahead of the pack. The temp increased as I dropped lower in elevation. The trail was through a tunnel of Rhodendron in an archway. Suddenly a stream popped out of nowhere with a huge pool of cold water. I was in heaven and soaked my head and soaked a bandanna which I wrapped around my head. I continued on my way with just one more climb to end out the day.

I arrived to the shelter at 3:15 and was the first person there out of the group from camp. I set up my tent, filtered water, and got organized and soaked in the sun. The crew started filtering in at about 4:15 so I guess I was about an hour ahead of them. I cooked dinner and at, then relaxed around the fire. Went to bed about 9:30. Tomorrow we have several big climbs including Albert Mt where the 100 mile mark is. Holy crap I've almost walked 100 miles. We all are shooting to get to rock gap shelter and get a ride into town. The 8 of us are going to try and split a suite at comfort inn. Today was a great day.

April 19, 2016

Woke up early at around 6:30 this morning. Packed up my tent, gear and made breakfast. I was just about ready to go when the rest of the crew started waking up. I said see you all this afternoon and was off. Well between camp and 15 minutes later down the trail I must of stepped in dog poop, animal poop or quite possibly human poop. How did I discover this, well I looked down and at the bottom of both pant legs on the inside there be "poop" Well I laughed cause what else are you gonna do in the middle of the woods. I hiked on.

Apparently I broke trail because for the first 4 miles I was covered in cow webs from head to toe. Your welcome all behind me!! I stopped for a snack at about mile 4 and unzipped off my pants and pulled them inside out and tucked them in my bag. I hiked on.

Stopping to filter water at Betty's Creek. I arrived at Mooney Gap and met another hiker Chris who just got back from a tour in the Middle East in the army. He arrived just as I was to trail magic by Rodney who was just setting up. He had coffee, OJ, bananas, oranges, pineapple, cookies... I was so surprised as I didn't even know there was a dirt road there. He was awesome and had time today as all he had to do was dismantle a piano. What?!?? Lol!! He said he has two pianos in his house and no one plays it so he was gonna dismantle one. I thanked Rodney took a picture and moved on.

The trail than followed a cliff with great views between the bushes. I was kinda glad the bushes were there as it was a woooooaash moment. That was for about a mile. Then in the distance you could see Albert Mt. with the fire tower in top. So cool to see. The climb up was very similar to something you would see in the White Mountains. Bedrock ledge scrambles. When I arrived at the top I took pictures and the fire tower was the 100 mile mark... Woooooooooo.

I hiked on after having my lunch on the summit. I stopped at long branch shelter and Rock gap shelter on the way and even with the stops I arrived at Rock Gap at 2:30. Did 12.2 miles in about 6 hours. I was pumped.. Now just had to wait till 6 for our ride into town. We all were supposed to split a room at the Hampton Inn. I was waiting for someone from the crew to catch up and Keg Leg showed. I asked her if she has anyone's number and she said her phone was dead. Well we waited and Kid and his dad showed up and another guy. We all sat and someone said hey there is one more shuttle at 3:45. So when it showed I wrote a note and stuck it to the trash barrel. Jumped on the shuttle and headed into town.

Got here and tried to get a room at Havens Budget Inn but they were sold out. So I grabbed a bunk in the bunk house. Did my laundry. Was sitting on a plastic chair in the parking lot in just rain pants, flip flops and no shirt watching the traffic go by. That's an image. Laundry finished, jumped in the shower then went and grabbed food at Hardee's and an Iced Coffee from Mcd's and resupply at Dollar General. Got back to the bunk house and now relaxing. Miles came in another bunk mate and he said he got a ride at 6pm from Rock Gap. I asked him if he saw a dog Dexter, Timber, Luigi. He said yes they got the same ride and got my note on the trash barrel. Excellent! I didn't want them to think I ditched them, but hike your own hike. Bed soon.

The plan tomorrow is to get up early, pack up grab breakfast nearby and get to the post office when they open to get my three packages. Then back to the Budget Inn to grab the 11am shuttle back to Rock Gap

April 20, 2016

I woke up early today at 6:30am in the bunkhouse. I packed up my gear and walked down town to get breakfast. After breakfast I headed back to the bunkhouse grabbed my gear and walked to the post office to pick up my 3 packages. I had to stuff it all in and boogie back for the free shuttle. Jumped on the shuttle and got dropped off at Rock Gap. I dumped everything out and repackaged it and realized shit I have so much weight in my pack. I didn't realize Jeff had sent some of the things I had bought last night.

I began the days hike and felt pretty good till I got to the ups. My feet instantly responded to the weight and were sore. I kicked off my boots and bandaged up my feet and duct taped them. I hiked on. Climbing out of winding stair gap I came across Little-foot who I had heard was sick. She said she thinks she had heat exhaustion and was taking it easy. I carried on and suffered up the climb to 5010 feet. I stopped a bit from the top to have lunch.

After lunch I came across a blue blaze to the top of the bald I was climbing. I dropped my pack and hiked up in the blazing sun. The view was phenomenal. I carried on cringing at my feet. I got to the fire tower for another fantastic view. I finally arrived at the shelter to full full.. Not a lot of places to camp normally so I'm set up on a hill. Hopefully I don't role downhill in the middle of the night. I did 14.7 miles today, my biggest day yet. I'm beat and gonna crash. The crew I was with were going to take a zero today and I wasn't wanting to do that so I moved on. They will catch up.

April 21, 2016

Another tough day on the feet today. Woke up in my tent with my head facing downhill. Never have slept that way but I slept super well. Got up packed up and got on the trail at 9. My feet hurt before I even started so I taped them, and put on 2 pairs of socks for added padding. I took my time as the climbing was not terrible but it was up. At the first shelter I came across I stopped and had s snack. Then continued on for more slow walking. I'm not sure if I have blisters under the skin, or bruised bottoms of my feet or what. All I know is each step was pain.

At Tellico Gap I stooped for lunch and took off my boots and socks to let everything dry. I had one more big climb of the day then it was all downhill to the NOC. At the top of the last climb was a tower with an observation deck. Granted there were clouds at this point but still great views and great pics. I contained on the climb downward. Taking my time to go the miles. When I arrived at the Morgan Shelter I had not realized I had just walked 15.5 miles my longest day yet. Tomorrow only 1 mile to the outdoor center and hopefully able to get a bunk in the bunkhouse. My feet need a zero and this will be my first one.

April 22, 2016

Woke up early at the shelter and packed up my gear after a quick breakfast. Got on the trail by 7:30 so I could get into the N.O.C. before they opened up. Made the easy mile walk on super sore feet. Luckily I did this in between rain and I have still yet walked in the rain. I got to the outdoor center by 8:15 and dropped my gear off outside the restaurant. Went in and had the best breakfast ever. While inside at breakfast I tried to book a room on the N.O.C. website. They had nothing available for Friday night but did have a room for 2 in the bunkhouse for Saturday so I grabbed it.

After breakfast I sat and relaxed outside on the benches outside the restaurant under the pavilion. I called the reservation line at 9 just to confirm that there was nothing available or any cancellations. She told me the only thing they had available was a cabin for 549.99 which I said "NO THANK YOU". At this point the outfitter was open and I decided to wander around. I scored body glide and wet wipes in the hiker box. I bought a few post cards and mailed them and signed the log book. When the general store opened at 10 I walked over and bought a drink and went back and sat on the bench by the restaurant.

My best friend David and his family had left Disney World that morning and were planning on stoping to visit on their way back to Massachusets. They said they would take me into town to a motel when they got here at 6. So I plugged my phone in to charge and decided to relax. I googled places to stay and the Nantahala Lodge which showed a mile down the road. I called the number and Cindy answered saying yes they did have rooms available. She said they are only a mile west. I started walking in the rain and she called me back to say her husband was at the NOC and he would give me a ride. I turned around and found Chad and he brought me down to the motel. It was in a great location and very neat and clean.

I got there about 10:45 and unpacked all my gear. I took a bath and just lounged for the rest of the day. I jumped on a conference call at 5 for the Catskill regional chairs meeting which I am a volunteer for and was actually in a position to call in.

David and his family arrived at 6:30 and I was so excited to see them. We hung for a bit in the room and then drove into Bryson City to get dinner. They drove me back to the motel and we said our goodbyes. I got inside and was in bed by 9:30. I rested my feet and they are feeling better. It appears I have two blisters under the skin deep and not on the surface.

The plan tomorrow is to get dropped off at the NOC and take a zero and let them heal further. I won't make it to Maine without good feet. Luigi texted me yesterday to ask if I was hiking in this Monsoon of rain. I lucked out that I got into the NOC before it poured and boy did it pour. She was held up in her tent and the rest of the crew has taken another day off. They should of been dropped back off at Rock gap. I told Luigi if she could get to the NOC she could split the room with me. I have two beds and only need 1. She said she is gonna push to do 15 miles on Saturday to get to the NOC. It will be nice to have her catch back up to me.


Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal (where much of this content is being developed from)

You can also follow him on his Facebook Page, Moe Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Storm is also working to raise money for charity as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. He currently has a GoFundMe campaign that is supporting the work of the Catskill Center to protect and preserve the Catskills and the Catskill Park, where Storm lives, enjoys the outdoors and volunteers!

Help Moe Hike for the Catskills!

For more information about the Appalachian Trail

You can visit the National Park Service's Appalachian Trail Park Page, which features a link to the AT brochure and map.  Guides and maps are produced and sold for the AT as it passes through each State between Georgia and Maine.  There are several books including the Thru-Hike Planner, the AT Guidebook, the AT Thru Hiker Companion and the Data Book to name just a few that can help hikers who are planning on hiking the entire AT or sections of it. We also maintain a section for Appalachian Trail Guides, Maps and Books at on Adventures in the Outdoors Online Shop.