April 20, 2012
By Jim Dashiell,
Hello again from Funnybone on the AT!
As of April 17, I have hiked 199.1 miles. The longest daily hike was 12
miles, although actually 14 to 15 miles because twice I had to take a
trip down the mountain to a spring for water and then back up again.
Finding water has been a daily issue.
Over the last 2 ˝ weeks, I have slept in hostels, shelters, in my tent
in campgrounds and even in a few hotels including Budget Inn in
Franklin, N.C., Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina, Fontana
Lodge near Yellow Creek, N.C. and the Grand Prix Motel in
I spent my first nero day, a day you do nearly no hiking, at Blueberry
Patch Hostel near Hiawassee, Ga. on April 2. I walked about 3.5 miles,
then hitchhiked to the hostel where several of my hiker friends were
also staying. I spent part of the day in Hiawassee at McDonald’s where I
ordered one of everything on the $1 menu and drank a half gallon of
sweet tea. I did some shopping, checked my blood pressure, read the
newspaper and bought a few groceries. It was 80 degrees, and the locals
said it was much warmer than usual for this time of year. The owners of
the hostel did my laundry and provided a wonderful breakfast the next
morning. I didn’t realize how much I had missed coffee until I drank
The weather has mostly been good with cool winds, which is great for
hiking. I have also traveled through rain storms and was somewhat
concerned while hiking on top of Rocky Knob, one of the last mountains
in Georgia that crosses the AT, when a thunderstorm complete with enough
hail to cover the ground broke out, and I was carrying two lightning
rods (hiking poles!). Then the cold winds came. I was totally drenched,
and my socks and boots were full of water. I was able to make it across
the border into North Carolina that night where I pitched my tent.
I have encountered some easy hikes, but many that were very steep
going up and down the mountains. One in particular was only one-half
mile long, but I don’t think the heels of my shoes ever touched the
ground because it was so steep. The longest and most difficult to date
was the climb out of the NOC,
which was five miles straight up. I have had wonderful views from
Clingman’s Dome and other mountains and I have walked across the Fontana
I have seen many forms of plant life and wildlife including Trillium,
rhododendron thickets, mountain laurel trees, May apples, poison ivy,
deer, turkeys, snakes, pileated woodpeckers, lizards and grasshoppers,
as well as many kinds of birds including an oriole. At night I can hear
owls, as well. I have looked for morel mushrooms, but have not seen any,
nor have I encountered any bears. I have seen evidence of feral pigs
where they have disturbed the trail, but have not met up with any
I have met so many wonderful, interesting people from as far away as
England and Saskatchewan, as well as several from Indiana, including the
gentleman who actually established the
in 1972, a few doctors, seven young men traveling together to hike the
Smokies, an author or two, one lady who wanted to quit the trail but
whose husband wouldn’t come to pick her up, a hiker called Red Wolf who
sings loudly as he hikes, and a father with his 11-year-old daughter,
Sunshine. Sunshine hiked the Pacific Crest Trail at age 10 and is now
attempting the AT.
You can take the doctor out of the office, but can’t take the doctor
out of the doctor and I have been able to give some medical advice to a
gentleman with a bad shoulder and a young lady hiking the trail while
suffering from Achilles tendonitis.
I continue to be blessed by Trail Angels who drive many miles to set
up a place to feed hikers and enjoy their company. A church in Franklin,
N.C. has a ministry where they pick up hikers and take them to their
church for a wonderful, free, all-you-can eat pancake and bacon
breakfast with all the trimmings, then return you to the Trail. Two
couples from Atlanta, Ga.
brought grills and cooked us cheeseburgers. They brought chairs, too,
and it felt really good to sit on a chair as opposed to the ground or a
log. Another group of angels actually hid Easter eggs on the trail just
to boost the spirits of the hikers. These random acts of kindness are
very heartwarming and continue to bring to mind The Golden Rule.
I am doing well and enjoying the journey. To follow me on a daily
basis, go to website www.trailjournals.com, search funnybone, then 2012
AT Jim Dashiell.
N.E. on the A.T.