Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tomorrow is a new day........Email update #3 April 30, 2004

From: Jen Sober <>
Subject: Tomorrow is a new day.....
Date: Friday, April 30, 2004, 2:35 PM
If you don't read all of these emails...please be sure to read this story:
I think that Sean and I have really experienced a life changing experience. Changing our views on bad days and how to overcome them. We all have them, jobs, family, weather, LIFE.....something makes certain days just seem so miserable. Well.... What a difference a day makes!
   The other day we got to camp, set up hung out in the grass and went to bed. In the middle of the night the weather turned really bad...major downpour. Next morning...still raining bad, and cold. We had nothing to do but pack everything up in the rain, everything all wet - esp. the tent being stuffed into its sack getting even the inside wet. Packed it all up, skipped breakfast and started hiking. It was just such a miserable day. And neither of us were feeling to happy.....just plan old miserable. We felt so bad that when we passed this church along the way, I wanted to break in just to get dry and warm. It was the only thing in site. But we continued. The thought of hiking all day in the rain to get to a place and sleep in the wet as well just was making us feel worse. Sean looked at me and said "I promise we will have a dry place tonight. Our goal of 16 miles for the day turned to 18 just to get to the next shelter and maybe we could get our things dry in there. We couldn't stop to break since we both got cold real fast while it rained on us. Got to the shelter, it was cold and wet and the fog was making everything in the shelter wet. Our stuff was wetter than wet. Sean looked at me and said "let's keep going" 6 more miles was the next hostel where we were to pick up our next mail drop the next day. We went on.... 24 miles...long miles. We were limping from the long miles and no rest and cold. Got to the hostel.....booked up. 27 people staying at a place that help only 15. :-( I almost cried. But the owner drove us to another place 5 miles away where we were able to get a bed and a shower...finally, as Sean promised - a dry place to stay. Our moods were way down that night, from the day and how our legs felt. But.....
"Tomorrow is a new day" The next day, back on the trail. And let me tell was the most beautiful hike we had yet. Unbelievable. The first 3 miles were along thse waterfalls called Laurel Falls. We almost took more pictures this day then all the days put together. The weather was 60 and sunny- perfect! Few mile later we were hiking around this huge lake (it reminded us of home - Deep Creek Lake). We ended up stopping so many places to just sit and look out at the view - words just can't explain.
My Point - when times are rough...tomorrow is a new day. You may wake up to the best day of your life. Instead of wasting time in misery, go to the things that bring you joy. Wildflowers, waterfalls, butterflies, etc... these are few of hte things that get me through the miserable rainy cold days out here.
   So next time you have a bad day, remember this story and that "tomorrow is a new day"
sorry for the sap. :-)
Other things that happened last 2 weeks:
** Great weather, other than that one day. We have actually had a little bit of everything. Hot and sunny, Hot and rain (very refreshing) Cool, Cold and Rain......
 ** Sean almost got bit by a very large black snake. It was quite funny. Since he is paranoid with snakes, it didn't help him much. His foot stepped right next to this snake and it got just as scared and cinched back as if it were going to strike, which is when Sean saw it and jumped 2 feet in the air and 2 feet sideways. I was behind him and it was so funny! I don't mean to make fun - it wouln't of hurt if it bit him, but i'm sure it would not help his fear of them - may of even caused shock - UGH - No Good! He is very watchful now :-)
** We have had quite a few days of high miles - a couple 19's, 21 and 24.
** Had our first true experience with Trail magic. Came to a road crossing that had a parking lot and 2 people were there grilling hot dogs for thru hikers. So we both got 2 hotdogs, an apple and orange, carrots, cookies and brownies. YUMMY!!!! We filled our bellies up. It is magic because it is food you can't carry with you so you get to eat it with out packing it. It is a nice treat when you are starving. So if you are ever by the AT, be sure to bring some magic to some Thur-Hikers. We also got a small dose a few days later with an apple, trail mix and a peanut butter sandwich.
** Sadly i lost my favorite jacket (marmot dry climb) in a wind storm on top of a mountain. If $$ allows, I hope to be able to buy a new one soon. It kept me so warm and for the last 2 years, went with me everywhere. You don't realize how much you are attached to things until they are gone.
*** We have finally been given official trail names. If you have read anything on the AT (A walk in the woods by Bill Bryson is an excellant one) you may have heard that all hikers end up getting a trail name and that is usually what other hikers will introduce themselves as (you never really get to know anyones real names)
Well, Sean has been given Dinner Short and I am Figit. I will explain in the next email why we were given these.
Where are we? We are in Damascus, VA. We just crossed the TN/VA line today. Our buddy Bernie is meeting us here in a little while. We have been so excited to meet up with him. He will be hiking with us for a week. It is amazing the kind of energy you get when a friend or family meets up with you out here. Since there are many of you near the trail in VA and further up. Let us know if you want to come out and hike a day or so with us, camp or even just say hello.
We should be hitting the Shenandoah Mtns. on Wed. May 26. And starting to hike them on Friday the 28th. There are many places there to meet up. Our buddy Gregg should be hiking about a week or at least a couple days  somewhere in there. We are looking forward to that as well.
I hope you are all doing well. Please keep in touch via email.
We do love hearing from all of you!
Don't forget:
Jen & Sean :-)
aka - Figit & Dinner Short

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mid-late April Pictures & Journal Entries

                                                                               French Broad River 4/18/2004
Breakfast at Hogback Ridge 4/21/2004

Indian Grove Gap, Frist Trail Magic 4/23/2004


Unaka Mt Forest Peak, 5180', 4/23/2004

Big Bald, 4/25/2004
High winds, Lost Dry Climb Jacket, Wild Bulls & Cows
keeping warm with it. :-(
Apple House Shelter, 4/25/2004
Great tent spot, cold rain starts 1 am and continues 24 hours :-(

JOURNAL ENTRY - April 25th, 2004
Todays Miles = 16.2 Total Miles = 385.1 Miles to go = 1789
Great morning at Ash Gap. Great weather. Got more trail magic over Roan High Mtn. Went over 2 balds - Little Bald and Big Bald. It was extremely windy at this point. My favorite jacket was tied onto my bag and miles later I realized it was gone. It must have been blown off with the strong winds. When I realized I threw down my pack and told Sean to wait as I ran back 15 minutes to see if I could find it. Im sure the wind took it and the wild bulls and cows we saw on top of Big Bald were keeping warm with it. We got to Apple House Shelter and pitched our tent in a great spot. We were on an old apple orchard. So pretty - green, flat and soft grass, just a great night. But still sad about my jacket.
JOURNAL ENTRY - April 26th, 2004
Todays Miles = 24.1 MILES
About 1 am it started to rain lots and all night and all morning and all afternoon. And in addition.... a cold front. We had to pack up in the down pour - everything now wet wet wet. We were both very cold - to the bones. It rained on us till about 5 pm. We decided to take our planned 16 mile hike to 18 so that we could dry our stuff in a shelter. So, we got to the shelter and it had way to many people - not to mention the fog mist coming into it making everything in the shelter wetter. Tears were all over me today. Earlier in day, Sean looked at my sad face and said "I promise you I will get use to a dry place tonight." And he meant it. We went on past the shelter for another 6 miles to get to Kinkora Hostel. So we did 24 miles in the rain. My feet and lower legs are not good. Swollen feet, really puffy. And my calf feels like I pulled a muscle. I limped the last 6 miles. the last mile Sean had to carry my pack on his chest. We got to the hostel - FULL!!! Hikers were even sleeping on the porch under and on top of picnic tables. But once the owner saw how sad my face got when he said they are full, he brought us into town to another hostel that had space. Dried everything out in the living space. Iced and elevated my feet.
Laurel falls

JOURNAL ENTRY - April 27th, 2004
Todays Miles = 10.6 Total Miles = 419.8 Miles to go = 1754.3
Wow, what a difference a day makes! I was so miserable yesterday that I wanted to break into a church to get warm. Today - the best hike and day yet. The scenery was unbelievable. First 3 miles hiked along waterfalls - Laurel Falls. Then we hiked around the lake. Reminding me of home - Deep Creek Lake. I needed a day like this. It reminds me to keep my head up when times are rough. Cause, you never know what tomorrow will bring!

Watauga Lake

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

271 miles down, 2004 Email Update #2

From: Jen Sober
Subject: 271 miles down
Date: Friday, April 16, 2004, 11:16 PM
1904 miles to go!!!!!
(i swear... i will really work on getting these email to be shorter..sorry) (i am not spell checking either, last time i did that i lost the email, so i apologize now for my bad typing)
We are now in Hot Springs, NC. We ended up getting here 2 days early, so we are now enjoying a couple days off to recover the feet and freshen up (and hopefully get some weight off our packs).
Let's see.. Wallace Gap (Franklin NC) was our last update. Hiking times have been so wonderful! The weather could be a bit drier and warmer, but we are still enjoying each and every experience we go through.
The first think we missed after leaving Franklin was a toilet...digging a hole is just not quite the same. Or, sometimes we get the privledge of a Privy at a shelter. We were very homesick for the trail and were very excited to be back "home."

Nantahala River
The Georgia mtns were very up and down and great weather. The NC mtns. have been more go way up and stay up over rolling hills but horrible weather. The elevation differences are amazing. We remember the first week saying " oh my we are hitting 4000 feet today" and now it is "6600 feet"
We had a blast when the AT went across the Nantahala River. We hiked 6 miles straight down to the river dropping about 3500 feet to arrive at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) right there on the trail. It was one of the most beautiful days - 70 and sunny! Across the river was a cafe where we got some coffee and sat by the river relaxing (took the boots off). Then we went back over the river to the resteraunt and ate their famous Cheeseburger!!! We were at the NOC for about 4 hours before we put our packs back on our backs for a 6 mile hike climbing back up 3500 feet on the other side.
As we climbed each mountain each day, we could see Fontana Dam/Lake as well as (we think) Clingmans Dome (the highest peak on the AT). Clingmans had a bunch of snow on it's peak...very scary! :-)
We got to Fontana Dam on April 7th. It was really neat there! Largest Dam on the East. Enormous lake, cute little village where we picked up a mail drop and ate...LOTS!!! The Dam is also the beginning of the Smokies!
The Smokies have been a section of the trailed we have feared for some time. I kept picturing being up there in a blizzard on Clingmans Dome. But, luckily (if you call this lucky) we only had rain. The first day and a half were nice, then we just had rain all the way to Hot Springs. It is really making us tough hiking and camping in the cold rain and strong winds. We never really were dry! But each day it is worth it cause even in the rain the views are amazing!  It is really fun to look at the peaks we just hiked a day or two before. There just isn't any words to explain the beauty of these mtns. I said one day it looke like an Ocean of Mountains! It truely did.
Pokey, Zippy, Indy, Jen, Monkey, Andy, & Tawain John
(I did not have my trail name given yet)
We ended up increasing our miles a lot in the Smokies many 15 miles and a 19 miler to get out of there after only 4 nights. The nights it didn't rain though, we have had a great time around the fire pit talking with other hikers. We have been really greatful to be able to meet up many times with our fellow home town hikers Julia and Mike (also from Western MD).
Standing Bear Farm is a place we stayed our first night out of the smokies. It was there off the trial and it was a great set up. We will tell you all about it when we see you...(outdoor shower, bunk house made all from trees and a tin roof, best fire pit ever)
The next day we hiked through every possible weather there is... started in a monsoon rain storm, sun came out along with the heat and humidity, the rain came again bringing with it major fog mist and really strong winds (esp at the top of the mtns). Then it started sleeting on us. The top of Max Patch was a miserable time.... you will see pictures the next time around. Then we got to camp after another 19 mile hike (we just wanted to get to Hot Springs) and decided to stay in the shelter there so we wouldn't be packing a wet tent. The snow started up as we were cooking dinner..,.... Oh...I was so cold! Even Sean was having trouble staying warm. All night, snow blew into the shelter on our faces and our sleeping bags were soaking wet the next morning. We hightailed it that morning to get to Hot Springs and to lower elevations. We hiked 15 miles that day and never stopped moving/hiking for 12 miles.
We are now dry and visiting family (Harry & Kathleen). They picked us up and we are now in Asheville, NC enjoying a nice vacation away from our job of hiking :-)
As for how we are doing... GREAT! Never better! Sean is in the most amazing shape. You would all be so surprised, i think we could blow me away in a 5k race right now. We have really become stronger out in the mtns, which has really allowed us to up our miles. Each time we sit down and take a break.....regardless of the weather....we both are looking out at the scenerey and say "This is the LIFE!"
Pictures. Thanks to Jumana, i have our first roll of film on a online album. I do not have time to enter all your addresses in it yet so i am going to give you the info and you can use my user name etc. to view them. Eventually i hope to be able to get the time to organize it better. I will also tittle each picture at another time. But enjoy. These are of the Georgia Mtns. We we get more on there, i will be sure to let you know to go back and view them. We are sending 2 more rolls to Jumana now so in a week or 2 there will be 50 more pics to view.
That is all for now. We miss you all and look forward to hearfing from you.
Sean and Jen
PS...Charlie - Sean is following in your footsteps and tapping the first white blaze he sees every morning. :-)

more journal entries for AT Hike 2004

Fontana Dam to Russell Field Shelter
Todays Miles = 14.9    Total Miles = 177.5    To Go = 1996.6
We started todays hike with Julia and Mike and M.C. and Mo-Jo. We all ejoyed the easy hike over Fontana Dam (the largest dam east of the Mississippi). Enormous! Once we entered the Smokies, we all got separated with our own pacing.  I was ready for a really tough day. But it wasn't that bad. There was this section that was covered with these white wild flowers everywhere. They gave me energy. So beautiful. I just wanted to lay down in them and sleep. To me, that is what heaven must look like.

Russell Field Shelter to Silers Bald Shelter
Todays Miles = 14.7    Total Miles = 192.2    To Go = 1981.9
Today was a different picture. We stayed in the shelter last night. The Smokies have a ton of bears, so you are required to stay in these caged shelters. The high winds caused the tarps hanging over the cages to be very loud. No sleep. We are doing some high miles now to get out of the Smokies in 4 days and get to Hot Springs, NC (our next time off the trail) a day early. It will be wet and awful. I hope to stay calm, focused and warm
Silers Bald Shelter to Icewater Spring Shelter
Todays Miles = 14.5    Total Miles = 206.7    To Go = 1967.4
Today was a huge day for us. Clingmans Dome = the highest peak on the AT. The morning was sunny, so we got out early to get to the peak before the rain came in. We were hoping for trail magic...but there was none. Lots of tourists though. It was Easter weekend and many people were there with their cars to see the views. Ugh...If they only knew we hiked over 200 miles to get there. On the north side we had to hike through lots of snow on the ground. Very slick 

Tricorner Knob Shelter to Standing Bear Farm
Todays Miles = 18.1    Total Miles = 237.4    To Go = 1936.7
Left Tricorner in a down pour. Hiked our longest miles to get to a dry warm place. Standing Bear Farm is a hostel just off the trail. Everything made of trees from the property. Funny Drunk Hostel Owner. Great flowing stream going right under the cabin we stayed in. Small hut for laundry, and one for cooking and eating, outdoor library area, an outdoor shower and a great fire pit that we all hung out at till midnight. Great experience.
Standing Bear Farm
Standing Bear Farm to Roaring Fork Shelter
Todays Miles = 1485    Total Miles = 255.9    To Go = 1918.2
MAX PATCH - 4629'
This morning we woke to a complete down pour. Started hiking and got soaked real fast. Eventually the cold rain went away and the sun came out - became very hot and steamy. later the fog came and it got really cold again. The fog got worse and the wind picked up and it started to sleet. We hiked up Max Patch - it was horrible. Couldn't see 2 feet in front of you. I hated Max Patch and couldn't wait to get off it. I'm sure it is beautiful on a sunny day though - but now, I hate it. We heard it was suppose to snow at higher elevations, so we hiked on past the campsite we planned to stay at, since it was just past Max Patch. By the tine we got to the shelter it was so cold, we barely could cook. We just wanted to put on every piece of clothing we had with us and crawl into our sleeping bags. Then the snow started - UGH! Went to bed freezing - a tent probably would have been warmer. All night - snow blowing into the shelter onto my face. I just wanted to cry. Our sleeping bags were soaked and covered in snow.
15 miles to HOT SPRINGS
Miserable morning. No cooking or hot cocoa. Just pack up and go and get to lower elevations. I even put on my hiking clothes over my pjs to try and stay warm. My boots were frozen, along with my hands - made it really hard to tie the laces. Going to the bathroom was a treat. Not only did I have a tough time digging a hole with frozen hands and a frozen ground, I had to drop my pants and be bare bottom in the snow. Finally - HOT SPRINGS, NC! Rest!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Email Update. April 2, 2004

From: Jen Sober <>
Subject: first update
Date: Friday, April 2, 2004, 4:59 PM

Hey Everyone! Well, i just wrote out this long email to you all and for some reason it disappeared on me when i hit spell check. So, since there are people waiting, i will try to be quick and not do a spell check.
Sean and i have been doing really well. Our packs are much too heavey, 45 and 51 pounds (10 lbs each over our target). Due to the weight our feet are taking a beating. I have been able to get beyond the blisters and the pain, but Sean is still dealing with it to a point (it is a lot better for him though). We are now at our first stop off the trail. It is wonderful. To take a shower, use a toilet, have a bed and do laundry - we are in heaven. For those looking at your maps, we got off at wallace gap, near Franklin NC. 25 miles into NC, just south of US 64.
We have seen some interesting animals - had a sleepless night in a shelter one night on top of Blood Mtn. woke to a rat's butt sticking out of my back pack and a few hours later a skunk sitting 2 feet in front of our feet. On a nicer side, we looked out our tent one night after hearing some noises and it was this huge deer 5-10 feet from our tent.
We had great weather our first 7 days. 60's while hiking but really cold at night, but dry. Last 3 nights were pretty bad - bad rain storm, then 2 nights and 2 days of snow. Was really cold sleeping in the tent while snowing - brrrrr - and everything wet and having to pack it up all wet for the next night just to get in a damp cold tent again. Was cold hiking in the snow too, but so beautiful. We got a picture that we will send soon. Luckily we got to Wallace gap when we did, cause the snow got worse and they say this morning it was a white out and snowing even more!!!!! Some hikers had to get forest rangers to drive them to town to get warm and dry.
We will be back onthe trail tomorrow. The moisture should be gone and our stuff will be dry for a few days, well somewhat dry...everything gets damp each night from condensation in the night.
I know i am missing a lot, i promise to give more info inthe next email. Since there are some waiting to use the internet.
We will be able to get online again in about 10 days, our next time off the trail (north of the smokies) We are going to look forward to that.
Sean is doing great out there. He can complain lot on hte climbs but he does them. He is making my pack a bit heavier to try and slow me down on the climbs, i agreed to it as long as he stays positive while going up ;-)
we are know well as "fast hikers" and slow campers. We don't get out of camp till 2-3 hours after everyone else. But always catch up. We all know why we are getting out of camp so slowly now don't you.....Your dear friend...TURTLE (although we are up at 6:30 am each morning, it is just the packing up thing) We will get there though. Once we can get out of camp at a good time, we will really rock through the mountains.
Seriously...i am very proud of Sean and you all would be so impressed if you could see him hiking each day. He hangs in there and doesn't give up.
We are having the experience of our life time!!!! And we can't wait to share more with all of you.
Looking forward to hearing from you on our next stop (via email)
Happy Trails
Live LIfe!!! Be Happy!
Jen & Sean :-)
PS- you all have to read the book "a walk in the woods" by Bill Bryson. It is funny and gives you an idea of what we are doing. And how the weather is crazy in the mtns.
Miss you all!!!!!!!!
We had to filter our water from sources that sometimes would be great full streams or waterfalls and others a little puddle - ick!


Journal Entry March 31, 2004

Standing Indian Shelter to Better Creek Gap
Todays Miles = 12.2      Total Miles = 84.2        Miles To Go = 2089.9
Yesterday, we got to Standing Indian Shelter and it was packed, so we tented it. It was a frigid freezing night. Woke up with snow on the ground. Oh my, my fingers and toes were so cold I couldn't even feel them. About 2 miles into our hike we ran into our hometown friends Julia and Mike. It was so great to see them. And on such a cold but beautiful day. We hiked with them until they reached the shelter they were camping at for the night. We went on a few more miles to Betty Creek Gap. Another cold snowy night. Many winter storm advisories and wind warnings. We look forward to tomorrow. Wallace Gap. It will be our first night off the trail. We will be able to get warm and dry out our stuff.