Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1) and 2) views from the trail up Clingmans Dome
4) 5) 6) and 7) views from Clingmans Dome
It is ubiquitous. There is an incredible amount of support for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. I knew about Trail Magic before starting my trip, but seeing and experiencing it for myself has filled me with so much love and I inspiration. The amount of generosity I have experienced and witnessed is astounding. I have been given countless rides, meals, supplies, and candies. I have been given shelter, warm beverages, adult beverages, as well as stories and wisdom for my travels. I am in Hot Springs right now, and there is a building dedicated solely to helping support hikers. I have seen people travel a hundred miles just to grill at a trail crossing for passing hikers! Naturally as a result, I am constantly looking for opportunities to give to others along the way. It feels so good to help somebody out in a time of great need, and a lot of those moments come up in the backcountry. This is the main reason why I took the Wilderness First Responder course right before my trip. I wanted to be prepared to help others in time of need.
The Trail Magic phenomenon is highly contagious, and this is still just the beginning! I am so grateful to be a part of this beautiful community. I know I will be a part of it for the rest of my life, and at the same time I will definitely be extending the magic outward to people who could use a little love on whatever journey they are on for themselves. Back to the adventures! -Silver Stag
I am currently in Gatlinburg, TN. My oh my this is quite the intersection of nature and humanity. I enjoy visiting the towns along the trail. I am clearly not a purist in that I need to be on the trail 24-7. I love experiencing all the people and towns along the way. I could tell stories for hours about all the wonderful people I have met.
Speaking of people I have met, there is a wonderful phenomenon of thru-hikers (and some wonderful section hikers!) developing a “trail name” along the way. Some of my favorite trail names this year so far include the following: Stairmeister, Scout, Swashbuckler, Apple, Hot Sauce, Kennedy, Wrecking Ball, Oconee, Unity, Stick In The Mud…and I could go on and on. I too have a trail name! Most people on the trail don’t even know my real name. They only know me by the name given to me by the trail. I have had a few names given to me by people on the trail: Avocado, Guacamole, Cheesesteak (which is a lame/cliché Philadelphia reference), but the one that stuck came not from a person, but a deer I met on the trail.
On day three of my journey, just past Woody Gap, three deer crossed right in front of my path. The largest of them stopped and made eye contact with me, and while looking into its eyes I looked deeply into my own soul and had a series of flashbacks to a Boy Scout camp I went to and then volunteered at in following summers called “Silver Stag”. It was a leadership course for Boy Scouts in the Philadelphia area, and it helped shape me in ways which brought me to where I am right now. I could write a whole book about the Silver Stag course and everything I learned from my time there. Namely, the self-confidence it takes to go on a journey this long and keep going without stopping (except for in a few towns along the way :P). So as a result, my trail name is Silver Stag! Tomorrow I head back into the Smokies for more adventures, and I will likely post a few photos later this evening.
Peace and Love to you all,
The first photo was taken at Cheoah Bald in NC by fellow thru-hiker Apple Kid, and the rest were taken around the Fontana Dam area by me.
We had some fun hitching rides to and from Franklin, NC! I met so many helpful and generous people there last week. I enjoy bopping into trail towns to see what’s going on. On the ride to Franklin, a gentleman and his wife fit nine hikers and two dogs into his pickup truck and drove us into town.
1) Long Branch Shelter built in 2012, the first AT shelter I stayed at
2) Jack a thru-hiking dog nestled in the leaves
3) Part way up Siler Bald on a cloudy and rainy day
4) Some frosty mountains in the distance after a windy and snowy night
5) A view from the Wesser Bald tower
I resupplied in Hiawassee yesterday, and today I got stalled at Dick’s Creek Gap (69.6 miles into the AT) after deciding not to hike and camp out in the low 20s tonight, maybe even lower temps depending on where I might have camped. My body does not handle the cold like it used to, and fortunately there is a brand new hiker hostel a half mile from the the trail! “Top of Georgia” Also, a day and a half of rest feels nice after seven straight days and one morning of hiking. Tomorrow, I hike into North Carolina!