Wednesday, April 25, 2007


TDS has provided some photos from the hike so far. More to come soon...

The front porch.

The master bedroom.

The back yard.

The kitchen.

The office.

Totally Different Subject, Springer Mountain; March 18, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Greetings Hiking Fans! And how are you today? From Erwin, TN. Ms Janets Bunk and Breakfast. Mile: 338.7.

What a great stretch of trail from Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN. and if memory serves me, then the trail only gets more beautiful.

It is so nice to hear from everyone! Thank you for taking the time to drop a note. Your notes remind me of great times, great experiences and great people. I hope to see you all one day, down the trail.

Thank you TEAM PORTLAND- Green Bean, Hi Pockets, Cross Stitch, Pace and Bricklayer!

Thank you TEAM MINNESOTA- Rob, Carlynn, Gabe and Sam.

Leaving Hot Springs,NC is always a hard thing to do. But one has to hike North. I was heading towards Mt. Rich Firetower, approximately 9 miles North, hoping that the firetower would be open so that we might camp in the observation deck. No such luck. The rain had picked up and I needed to get my tent pitched. So I found an area behind the firetower and then began the evening routine of making shelter, drying out, eating and ultimately sleep.

The next morning I felt wet and the rain had not let up. Basically, everything I had was wet. How cool would it be for the sun to appear so that I could dry gear before departing I thought? So I stayed in the sleeping bag hoping for the sun. By 10am, I realized that the sun coming out was just a dream. So, wet I headed North. The rain continued.

Later that afternoon I stopped to visit with FAL and HERCULES. We visited and they served food for several hours. As we talked the rain turned to snow. On a full stomach and some partially dried clothes I headed up the hill. The snow began to stick and freeze to my clothes and as wet as I was, it was difficult keeping warm despite hiking uphill.

Just three miles shy of the shelter I walked to Hemlock Hollow Farm, from Log Cabin Road.

Boy was I happy to find this place and that there was room for a wet and cold hiker. What a great place! They had everything a hiker could need. Plus, great coffee and all sorts of resupply food. We shared coffee and stories the next morning before I headed off.

The weather was nice and warmer the next morning. I said goodbye and started hiking towards Erwin, TN.

Gandalf and I hiked the remaining several days into Erwin, TN. The weather was much better and the views were excellent. The trail condition is great and we only see blowdown occasionally.
More and more wildlife can be seen as of late. Things are starting to green up. I have been having fun, finding ramps and then using them in my cooking. Ramps are like onion bulbs with a garlic-like taste. I use the greens as well.

The terrain is always changing but the one constant- there are always Ups and Downs. I am loving hiking over the balds. Walking along the trail over the balds gives you a chance for marvelous views. Often providing 360 degree views.

It is so beautiful. Often times, I enjoy just stopping to take in a view, listening to the woods or watching a bird.

No bear sightings yet. No venomous snakes.

Virginia here I come!

My friend White Crow is ahead. Scholar is here in Erwin. Not Guilty is abit behind. Not Yet is ahead. Spoonman is on his way up from South Carolina for a visit. We are heading in a mile or so.

I am meeting all sorts of great people and getting to spend time with hikers I met in 2005.

Thanks Green Bean, Robko, Stan, Hi Pockets, Cross Stitch, Bricklayer, Pace. Speedy recovery to Pace and Mike back in Portland, OR.

Totally Different Subject

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Update: Erwin, TN and Miss Janet's House

TDS has just arrived at the legendary Miss Janet's House in Erwin, TN. He'll be posting soon.

Miss Janet's is at mile 330, which is approximately one-sixth of the total length of the trail. Here is an
image of the southern tier of the trail showing TDS's progress to date.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Out of the Smokies

Update...highlights from Fontana Dam to Hot Springs, NC:

Day 1: From Fontana Dam, NC I hiked 5.9 miles to The Birches Campground. I was terribly needing a nap. I took one but awoke three hours later. Since dinner time was only minutes away I decided that here would be tonight's resting place. With great sleeps I began a very, very cold welcoming morning in the Smokies. Swiftly moving up the trail I really could feel that yes, I had arrived one more time to this great place. No snow, sunny skies and beautifully maintained trails I took it all in. If you have hiked here you know what I mean and if you have not, you should.

Up Shuckstack mountain was a tough climb but worth it and my muscles really responded to the challenge of a 2000 +ft climb. Lunch at Mollies Ridge Shelter. Cold but worth the stop. Tonight I stayed at Spence Field Shelter. My first in the Smokies. I had hoped my last due to non sleep created by snorers. We had a fire, it kept the shelter warm and despite the nights chill I slept comfortably.

Day 2: Spence Shelter to Double Springs Gap Shelter. To get things started off this chilly morning I got to climb ol' Rocky Top. Great views, great trail and a new song to sing. Up Siler's Bald the days hike seemed like a steady climb with an occasional reprieve. This night, determined to get sleep, announced my tenting to the crew in the shelter. It seemed that the shelter might fill that night making my tenting nearby "official".

The snow began shortly after I pitched the tent. Time to fix dinner and the snow just seemed nice as it fell. By the time I had eaten and sort of cleaned the nights crockery it was time for bed. I bid my farewells and slipped out for a warms night sleep. It was warm in there that night. I never felt uncomfortable. Of course, you always kind of sweat your bag getting wet in the night. Great night's sleep.

Day 3: Awoke to cold, chilly winds making it through my tent. Feet were starting to get cold and frost was noticeable all over the underneath of my rainfly. I could see that a snow drift had covered up a part of both rain flaps. Peering out from my tent at the snow that was falling and the snow that had been left building on the ground was as surprising as exhilarating. This is winter camping, eh? 5500' elev., temps in upper teens and you're hiking along a ridgeline with snow and wind blowing in your face--it was fun. Hiked into Newfound Gap and hitched into Gatlinburg with Skeeter Feeder a 2005 alum. Gatlinburg was Gatlinburg. More to follow...

Today (April 14), I'm officially out of the Smokies. We stayed on Mt. Cammerer. A trail .06 miles off the AT lead me up a ridge line, through a canopy of rhodies, scrambling up rocks to the top. At the top a tall simple but timely structure stood. The firetower had an observation deck that looked inviting. But was it open, could I get in to take a 360 degree look out over what I had just hiked and what lay ahead? I scrambled up some rocks and reached the firetower. Up the stairs and YES the door is opened. An octagon shaped observation tower made home to several hikers that night. It was a nice and cool night with a bright red sunset. We went to sleep warmer than we had the previous weeks sleeps.

It must have been around midnight when the wind started up. It started and did not let up until morning. We must have received a bit of rain, but the wind picked up at a ferocious pace through the night. Finally, a sleepless night due to something other than the horrible, unpaced, erratic snores of The Smokies shelters. A beautiful sunset and windy morning awaited the shelter gang. A slow start, but out by 10am got us to Standing Bear Farm hostel before 1pm.

The day before...April 10, 2007. Leaving the warmth of Tri Corner Knob shelter was tough today despite warmer than temperatures of late. A shorter hike was in store for today so an early start was not urgent. And since this days hike was so breathtaking up Mt Guyot down and back up to Deer Creek Gap I sure loved the time to stop. There was still snow on the ground and the hiking cold. I had to keep moving to stay warm. However, the sun would come out, I'd be hiking uphill and then overheating would begin. It was a tough battle maintaining body temp. Never wanting to get too wet with sweat, given the temperatures and wind, I would slow during climbs and speed down hill, constantly removing and replacing hats, gloves, rain pants and rain jacket. But what a beautiful stretch and then I got off on the Mt Cammerer side trail up to the fire tower. A nice finishing stretch that featured a slow uphill approach along a ridgeline. The views in all directions, seeing everything, forever, reminded me how fortunate I am for the experiences discovered on THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.

More updates soon -- I just sent Rob a disk full of photos, so hopefully, I'll have some online for you really soon.

Thanks again to Leki. Your poles are keeping me alive and hiking!

Granite Gear. I cannot say enough about how well your Nimbus Ozone has worked for me here on the AT and on the PCT.

Chef Paul, of Etowah Outfitters/ Gear, again, you are topping the list of items in my pack. Keep up the great work!

Monday, April 9, 2007


The Great Smokies received over 10 inches of snow in a spring storm. TDS is holed up in Gatlinburg, TN until it's safe to get back up on the trail. Expect a posting soon.

Photo courtesy of the City of Gatlinburg

Monday, April 2, 2007

Tellico Gap, part II

Greetings Friends, Family and Hiker Fans.... http: ((THANKS ROB and CARLYNN GORE!!!))

I hope you are well. It is raining (finally!) here in Franklin, NC. For the trail- I am at Tellico Gap, NC which is about 20 miles North of Franklin.

Not Guilty and I hiked together on and off in 2005. He is out here hiking and I knew that there was a chance I would eventually catch him. As I hiked North, I continued to see his Shelter Register Postings and each day the distance between us was narrowing. Finally, just a few miles South of Winding Stair Gap, we met at Rock Gap Shelter. We had a nice afternoon visiting. That night we stayed in the shelter...but nobody slept. Can we say SNORING and TOSSING/TURNING. So we were all glad to be in Franklin where good sleeps were waiting.

Here I ran into Scholar. She is out here hiking again and yes, we met on the AT in 2005. We had a nice time catching up! Many other familiar faces and friends in attendance for Ron Havens Hikers Fools Day party. We listened to a blue grass band sing and play Merle Haggard, George Jones, Waylon, Bob Wills,...We had barbeque and beer and tons of laughs. Thanks Ron! What a great party.

I have not felt a drop of rain while hiking this year. But that is about to today and tomorrow. We have watched a bit about the storms in the Midwest and I would love to have some thunderstorms on the trail. It has been warm and there were a couple days over 90.

No bears, no deer, no eagle sightings. Hikers have seen them though.

Physically, I feel great and fortunate.

The wildflowers are starting to rise from the leaves. And perhaps the rain we have had in the last several days is enough to start bringing out the color.

I am hoping to be heading into the Great Smokies, TN Tuesday or maybe Wednesday. Last year Green Bean and I hiked through the Smokies and they were gorgeous and dry, with no snow. I hope to have another great experience in those mountains.

Best of luck to all that are hiking this year. We truly have the greatest job. Thanks for everyones help and I think of you all often.

Happy Trails, Jason Bivin aka Totally Different Subject (TDS)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tellico Gap

Tellico Gap, NC. approx 126 miles. On the trail now for 14 days. Weather has been beautiful and warm. Some rain of lately. Attended the Hikers Fool Day party in Franklin at Ron Havens hotel. Many great people in attendance, blue grass music, bbq, free food and shuttles.

No animal sightings to report....well, there seems to be a pack of dogs running together around the Wayah Bald area. Hikers have photographed what might have been thought to be wolves. We drove past 3 of them and if you asked me, well, I thought they were was the dog collar that tipped me off.

Physically feeling very well.

Meeting new people and enjoying the hike.

Just a few miles from the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Wesser, NC. Fontana Dam by Tues and then up and up through the Smokies. I look forward to the miles ahead.

The next time I will stop in town will be Hot Springs, NC. Maybe a week or more. Then a stop in Erwin, TN at Ms Janets place before heading into Virginia.