The Latest on the Local Appalachian Trail Hikers

Check here to find out how Shawn McCarton and Karl Weiss are doing on their journey.

Back in mid-March, we told you the beginnings of the story of l. At that time, we promised you we’d follow their progress. And now we’re doing just that. Below are selected excerpts from the couple’s trail journal. Click on Hungus and Shawn’s Journal to read an their entries from every day they’ve been on the trail so far. We’ll post selected excerpts every Monday and Thursday until their journey ends in late September.

March 18
After trains planes and automobiles we did our food shopping for the first three nights. Avocado, tuna and goldfish Oh My! After cracking a beer, or two, we set out on the task of packing our packs. Hungus patiently offered advice and guidance as to how to pack my food bag, what was obsolete and in the end commended me on my pack look and weight! Then it settled in...we officially packed our packs for the first time! 

We let that thought resonate then headed on our first hike, to the hibachi restaurant around the corner :) We feasted as only people preparing to burn 5-6000 calories a day would feast. Afterwards we made our way back to the apartment.

March 19
Christa came into the ranger station where we signed in. I thought it was a good omen that a ranger was greeting everyone at the ranger station with a barred owl on her arm as show and tell. Shawn was thru hiker number 448 and I was 449. Both of our packs weighed 41 lbs. This included our two liters of water, two pbr's, and bottle of George dickle. Christa took our photo at the archway and we said goodbye and thank you and we're on our way at 11:20

March 20
Today marked our first full day on the AT. The day started at 9am at Stover's Creek shelter. The hike out was beautiful. A forest of rhododendron nestled around a creek was the scenery of our first 2.4 miles. Hungus talked me into taking a side trail to Long Creek falls. I'm glad he did it was amazing. We ran into an older couple that took our photo. We took our first break of the day there. I convinced two other hikers to go check it as we got back to the trail.

March 23
We got rained on pretty hard last night around 430am but both stayed dry. Shawn said she felt comfortable under the tarp in the rain. I think she is sold on the hammock for the long haul. We woke up around 745 and went through our daily routine of caffination, breakfast, and packing up. We were walking at 940 and watermelon hiked out with us. There were only about 5 people left at the shelter. 

The trail followed an old woods road gradually up hill for a few miles. The fog was so thick again that we could only see about 30 yards ahead. The rain started up again and thoroughly soaked us while walking. Since we were going up hill and the temps were mild with no wind we did not bother putting on our rain gear. It would just make us sweat. We passed a lot of other hikers that left the shelter before us. It seemed the rain was bothering a lot of hikers as many were talking about bailing into town. 

Eventually we left our cushy woods road and went uphill a little more aggressively. We stopped at a few springs along the way to get hydrated. The climb up blue mountain was extra rocky and reminded us of hiking in NJ. The rain was on again off again. It seemed as soon as our clothes dried out it just rained again. The fog did not let up either. Watermelon, Shawn, and I got to the top of blue and started getting blasted by the wind at least the rain had stopped. Shawn put her rain jacket on but I was warm enough hiking. 

Despite the rain and mud today Shawn and I both feel great. Her 2 blisters have not gotten any worse. I actually got a very small one on my left heal which is weird because I never get them. Hopefully we will get some sunshine tomorrow so we can dry out.

March 24
Upon our arrival to the vista, which felt like forever to get to, nature gave us a gift. To the east was the fattest rainbow I had ever seen!! It arched across the sky starting in the rain clouds and landing on the ridge directly in front of us. What a treat. We happily set up our hammocks and made dinner. 

March 31
At the top of Wesser was a large observation Platform. Again the views in the Nantahala national Forrest are breathtaking. We could see our big climb up to Cheoah bald very clearly but it blocked the view of most of the smokies. We continued 0.8 to the Wesser Bald shelter and got water from a stone cistern build into a spring right before we got there. There were about 9 people there and not many good tent sites left. It's times like this that the hammock is far superior to the tent. Pace and I set up our tarps and hammocks and got comfy for the night. We cooked dinner with the other hikers around a fire that they had built. My Spanish rice Lipton was excellent, but I accidentally broke my spoon while eating it. I bent it a little too much while stirring. I had to use Pace's and will be able to get a new one at the NOC tomorrow. After dinner around 845 we went directly to our hammocks. We were both exhausted. I wrote in the journal for a while and Pace listened I some tunes. It feels great to be back on the trail.


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