All About Trail Life – Notes from Will’s Journal

Will is keeping a daily journal on his phone and this week he got it connected to the iCloud so I could read his entries at home. I loved reading them and thought you might, too. I’ve picked a few quotes, in no particular order, that span Will’s journey of several weeks on the trail. I think these highlight some interesting aspects of trail life – the people he’s met (known by their trail names!), the food he’s eaten, the weather he’s encountered, and the mental and physical toll of a long-distance hike. I hope you find these highlights as interesting as I did!

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I made it into NC today! It was immediately more rugged but much more gratifying of an experience. There were more views in the miles I hiked in NC today than in all of GA.”

“We all ate and talked a little and then, as is thru-hiker custom for some reason, got into bed right at dark, which is about 7pm right now.”

​”As Lumpy was showing us the resupply area, he said ‘I have everything a hiker could ever need in here.’ I asked ‘Do you have Aqua Mira [water purification tablets]?’ ‘Well, no,’ was his reply. So that just sums up my stay there.”

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​…a trail angel named Rodney had set up his tail gate on his truck with peanut butter cookies, fresh fruit, coffee and orange juice. I stood and talked to him for about 45 min while I waited on the shuttle to come get me. I had 6 cookies, a banana, coffee, and 2 cups of OJ.”

“I was so worn out at the end of today. I was really hating the AT for how it goes up so steeply, only to send you right back down immediately. I was mad, but I never once thought of quitting. It’s not even in the cards at all as long as I can walk.”

​”A section hiker named Boston told me that a guy at the shelter might have norovirus, so I ended up setting up my tent beside his to try and minimize my exposure. I probably washed my hands a half dozen times tonight in the bathroom.”

​”…eventually the bottom dropped out and it began to pour. It rained from probably 1:30 till about 5:30 heavily.”


This side of Clingman’s really reminds me of the Sierras. There are large grassy balds on the sides of the mountains. And lots of hemlocks. Looks more like something out west than in the Appalachians.”

They hiked the trail several years ago and had 2 broken bones along the way. Took them 3 years the first time they said.”

We ate frozen cheese burgers and shared a bag of Rice Krispies from the hiker box with some powdered milk we also found in the box. Bow Tie went and bought 10 sugar packets for 25 cents and distributed them among us for our cereal.”

“It rained, snowed, and/or sleeted all day. About mile 13 I was really getting fatigued, and just sat down on a log in the rain.”

I got stocked up on water and ate dinner on a log close to where I had set up my tent. Backcountry pad Thai tonight. Ramen noodles, peanut butter, soy sauce, Knorr dried vegetables, and a little of the seasoning packet that came with the Ramen.”

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Today would be my longest day yet. 19.8 miles to Cosby knob shelter.”

I noticed as I rolled past the shelter that all were gone except 2 people who I later would learn were Cabot and Hobbes. Pilgrim, Pinky, and Free 2 Go were all there the previous night but were gone now.”

We got changed and decided to wait for the snow to die down before going out for water to cook dinner. It was snowing so hard and blowing all around that the shelter began to get covered inside.”

Woke up in the shelter after probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had. I heard a mouse right as I was about to get in my sleeping bag and didn’t have too high of hopes for the night’s rest, but all in all it was pretty good!”

​”I set everything up, ate and brushed my teeth just as it started getting dark… now I’m going to enjoy the night and look at the stars a while before heading to the tent to read and get some much needed rest.”

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Will is now north of I-40 (a milestone!) and has hit the 300-mile mark. I didn’t visit last weekend, but I’m meeting him again this Friday – Saturday (3/25-3/26). We are planning to meet up at mile 317.6 and stay in Erwin, TN.

So far so good!! Thank you for all of your encouragement and support along the way! 

-Meridith

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French Fry Salad, Anyone?

This past weekend I met Will in Fontana Dam, NC, a resort village located at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where North Carolina meets Tennessee. The nearest actual town is Robbinsville, NC, which is a 30-minute drive away from the resort and has a population of just 620.

We stayed at the Fontana Village Resort, which offers a special rate for thru-hikers, and explored nearby Fontana Dam. It is the highest dam east of the Rocky Mountains and has a pretty fascinating history.


The main event on the weekends, of course, is the FOOD! As delicious as Ramen noodles and granola bars may be, Will does look forward to non-trail food every once in a while. We made the journey into Robbinsville on Saturday to see what kind of small-town local fare we could find.

For lunch, we spotted an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet joint and decided to continue our tradition from the previous weekend. As we stepped out of the car we heard shotgun blasts and saw orange discs flying overhead. WHY was there a group of people shooting skeet right beside of the restaurant? We’re not sure, but they didn’t seem to find it odd in the least. If nothing else, it made for some great “all-you-can-skeet” buffet jokes.

Dinner was at the local Mexican restaurant. Having attended my fair share of family reunions and potlucks growing up in the south, I thought I had seen “salads” of every variety – but we spotted a new one here. The following menu item was listed under the Salads section exactly like this: “A bed of french fries topped with ground beef, covered with cheese and pico de gallo.”

Wait. What?

Not only does that not qualify as a salad even under southern law (and we make salads out of macaroni, eggs- anything you can mix with mayonnaise), but I’m not even sure that is a legitimate food.

French Fry Salad and all, Fontana Dam/Robbinsville was full of personality and we loved making memories there. I can’t wait to visit the next town along the trail!

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Will on 3/14, his first day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Today (3/16) he reached Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail.  It is also the 200-mile mark!

Today marks 21 days on the AT and Will is doing an amazing job! We’re updating the Instagram account (@thetreelogs) regularly, so check it out. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has followed along and offered words of support. You make this so much more fun!

-Meridith