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update 9 (fwd)

Here's the latest.  It just came in a couple of minutes ago....

(If you have tried to connect to the AT page today, I understand there are
some problems accessing from certain places.  I did a little testing, and,
while I was able to connect with no problem from my Nyx account in Denver,
I was not able to connect from my account at the YFN in Youngstown, Ohio.) 


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 12 Apr 96 16:16:05 EDT

Day 34  4/4/96  Thursday  no miles
Warm and sunny weather made this day seem like a typical Gatlinburg vacation. All our equipment was again dry, our stomachs full off burgers and shakes, and our resolve to finish the Smokies renewed. 
We visited the Happy Hiker outfitter and purchased a set of Leki Trekking poles for Nexmo. Many hikers use them and love them and consider them knee savers, which is exactly what Nexmo needs. Tomorrow back to the Smokies.

Day 35  4/5/96  Friday  10.4 miles
Lightning was under the weather, so T&L decided to stay in Gatlinburg. We had arranged for a taxi and by 9:40 a.m. we were back in the wind, cold, and fog of Newfound Gap. Beginning again was hard, but as we climbed above the clouds we were treated to partial sunlight providing us with some hope that Winter would soon end. Icewater Spring Shelter provided a sunny spot for a short  morning break. This shelter is closed to all except thru hikers and is by far the cleanest in the Smokies. 
We were treated to several excellent and unique views. The mountains seemed to rise up out of an endless carpet of cotton candy. 
Nexmo fell, the bad weather tension literally exploded from her lips and thankfully the distance back to Newfound Gap was too great for the option she was considering. Bravely, she pushed even harder through the mud and snow to Pecks Corner Shelter. Plenty of room - the bottom rack held four weekend hikers, Swing Right, and Indiana Bob. The top rack supported eleven. Three women, Stinky, Interplanet, and Marmot. Six men, Bearfoot, Brush, Maple Leaf, Big Dipper, Allgood, Bird, and of course ourselves. The young men and women took great pains not to crowd this older couple.
The cold evening was saved with a great blazing fire and guitar music provided by Maple Leaf. Oh, how that music helped.

Day 36  4/6/96  Saturday  12.9 miles
Big Dipper, the wonderful gentleman he is, filled our water bag and saved me a tough morning chore. None the less, we were the last to depart for Cosby Knob Shelter, which would be our final night in the Smokies. Cold misty fog again kept any vistas at bay. We just kept slogging through the miles of mud. The eerie gray ice covered trees providing there own type of beauty. 
Overcrowding was avoided because the girls and some of the young men continued on to Davenport Gap Shelter.  Godfather and Turtle (not the cheese girl) a retired couple joined Bird, Big Dipper, Robert, two Spring breakers, and us for another cold night in a shelter.
Tomorrow we looked forward to down and out at Davenport Gap.

Day 37  4/7/96  Sunday  8 miles
Exiting the Smokies helped bring out the sun and the down hill hike was quite pleasant. A warm sunny afternoon was quite a luxury. Anticipating the traditional Easter Sunday cheeseburger at Mountain Mama's Kuntry Store spurred us on. The cheeseburger was good and after the Smoky Shelters our bunkbox accommodations seemed pretty elegant. We had mattresses and a light bulb, all for just $10.00 each which also included a shower.
We slept quite well, no mice, no wind, no bitter cold.

Day 38  4/8/96  Monday  9.6 miles
Eight of us thru hikers piled into a pickup truck and were shuttled back to Davenport Gap by Mr. Mountain Mama ($1.00 ea). Snowbird Mountain was waiting for us and presented what seemed like, no what was, an endless climb. By mid day a light rain was falling which turned to snow above 3000 feet, but at least it wasn't heavy snow or bitter cold. The trail conditions were a great improvement over the mud of the Smokies. We especially liked the pine needle sections. We descended to Groundhog Creek Shelter below the snow line. Light rain continued but we managed a roaring fire to ward off the cold. Godfather and Turtle, Big Dipper, Chameleon, and October Dawn shared the shelter with us. M&M, Sightseer, Lobo's Pet, and March Hare with his dog Fool were all tenting. Sleeping was easy and peaceful.

Day 39  4/9/96  Tuesday  13.1  miles
More snow had fallen during the night leaving one inch at this elevation and certainly more above. Today we had to ascend and cross Max Patch Mountain. Worse than the snow was the return of windy bitter cold temperatures. When would Spring hiking begin?
The sun would wink at us from behind the passing clouds only tantalizing us with a moment of warmth. The long climb helped keep us warm but stopping for any lengthy break just brought on the shivers. 
The summit of Max Patch was dramatic. We had a clear 3608 view for miles. The wind howled almost pushing us off balance and brought on an intolerable face tightening eye numbing cold. We quickly exchanged pictures with Chameleon and October Dawn and descended into the protective Laurel.
A long down hill and short up brought us to the new and nicely done Roaring Fork Shelter. After a short break and considering the next day would bring us to Hot Springs we decided to push on. Our Trail Guide did not list Walnut Mountain Shelter but Wingfoot's Handbook claimed it still existed. Staying there would save 1.8 miles of uphill climb in the morning and bring us to Hot Springs sooner. 
Wingfoot was correct and although Walnut Mountain Shelter was old, it was clean and usable Considering the number of hikers using the trail I certainly hope this shelter avoids demolition. Two section hikers from Atlanta, Phyllis and Jina with their dog Chestnut joined us for another bitter cold mountain night.

Day 40  4/10/96  Wednesday  13.2  miles
All our water bottles were rattling with ice as we began the up and over of Bluff Mountain. The thermometer said 208 at 8:45 in the morning with plenty of breeze. Bluff Mountain reaches higher than Max Patch but is not a bald, regardless, it was cold and snowy. The mud sections of trail were frozen stiff so at least the traveling was easier. 
Finally below 2800 ft. the light at the end of the tunnel became visible. Green ferns, small white flowers, buds on all the trees welcomed us into another world. The sun's warmth allowed for relaxing breaks as the occasional smell of Spring welcomed us to Hot Springs North Carolina.
The Cheese Girls were still in town and ET and Yoda joined our group of twenty hikers for dinner at the Smoky Mountain Diner. ET insisted we tour their rooms at the Hot Springs Inn (Elmer's) which had the look and feel of a stately old home. Yoda played  piano and ET played guitar and sang for us. Turtle raved about the Inn's famous dinner while Cracklin Rosy looked jealous. They were heading out in the morning and hopefully we will catch them again.

Day 41  4/11/96  Thursday    no miles
R&R at the Alpine Court Motel. This Hot Springs break is the best yet. Thru hikers everywhere. Even Weightless, whose dog Barney is now off the trail, has had an extended stay in Hot Springs. We have run into Wingfoot several times and his words regarding mileage are very encouraging. -  "Don't worry, the miles will come."
Nexmo treated herself to a full hour massage. Then another wonderful hour with Download and a bottle of wine in the Hot Springs Spa. Need I say more?
A large group for dinner again where we met Guinness, a charming Irish hiker. Hot Springs seems to collect hikers and we are no exception. Another full warm day of rest before hitting the trail would be absolutely wonderful. The decision is made - we stay until Saturday.

Next Update - from up the trail.

"Download" & "Nexmo"