It has taken two years, hundreds of miles, profuse planning, meticulous preparations, and a few setbacks, but Clarence, Mary, and I — the Three Amigos — are at long last ready to through-hike the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We will set out May 16 from Fontana Dam, spend a night in Gatlinburg to shower and resupply, and cruise into Davenport Gap May 25. Taking our time to enjoy the journey, we can fully experience (and document) the trail, the shelters, and our fellow hikers.
This adventure will require the support of others. Susan & Allen Sweetser are playing key roles in transport (as is Mary’s husband Mike), food, and accommodations. They will be there to cheer us on at the start, buck us up in the middle, and help us celebrate at the end. Good friends are indispensable and priceless.
Checking off the 71.4 miles of park trail the AT represents is just one desired outcome for the trip. I have three additional goals. 1) Study the high elevation ecological communities and become more familiar with many of the unique organisms found there. 2) Determine my readiness (and willingness) for lengthy backpacking trips. 3) Enjoy the hell out of life and, if lucky, walk away a slightly different and better person.
My primary task in early June will be to write a blog entry for each day of our trip. A daily journal, digital voice recorder, and my trusty Nikon camera are ready to help me keep track of the details. I have planned a couple of pre-AT conditioning hikes featuring two new trails and will include those in the report.
Emails are flying back and forth as we pack. My punch list of final gear and supply needs is all checked. We are prepared for various contingencies to the extent practical. Now we simply monitor the weather forecast to insure we have appropriate clothing for whatever May in the Smokies might throw our way. We are as excited as little kids counting down the days.
Wish us well.
G-Sprout, C-Monster, and T-Tumbler