Finished my Smokies Trails / Early Summer Trips

7:19 p.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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This is a combination report of my last  five trips from late May to last weekend.


I finally finished all the Smokies trails! My last one was a couple weeks ago and completes the map of maintained trails for me. I never actually set out to be a '900 miler as it's called; I just looked up one day and realized I had almost done them all and so spent the last couple of years knocking them out on weekends.

The Smokies trails are all interconnected and its quite a logic puzzle to hike them all. The fewest miles spent doing so that I've heard of is 1500 something. I know I've hiked several thousand miles in the park over the years. But now I can say I've done them all!

But I've discovered its only worth mentioning to other people that you meet on the trail that have an understanding of what it takes to do them all; it's hard to appreciate all the driving, planning, bad weather, bears' stealing your stuff, mice chewing your food-bags, shuttle expenses, cold creek crossings, backtracking, road-walking, sweat, and overall effort it takes to do them all if you haven't been exposed to it.


So anyway, here is a short video compilation that is in sequential trip order and represents the last five outings:


And here are some still shots that I like and wanted to share:


Frog on Jenkins Ridge Trail / Smokies





This is the old Pinnacle Creek Trail I was turned on to by Kevin Umberger. It has not been maintained in 12 years and has been removed from current maps. Despite a few stretches like this it was actually a great trail.





This is where I crossed Eagle Creek from the abandoned Pinnacle Trail





An after many, many internet conversations I finally got to meet and camp with fellow Trailspacer Kevin Umberger! We met on the Brookshire Trail in the Upper Bald Wilderness, TN. Kevin is cooking a filet on a stick over a fire. Yeah, that's how he rolls!





I like the gloaming light here on the AT in the Smokies.







Dirt bag camping all the way.







No idea where this was but it's so green it catches my eye.




It's appropriate that my last two Smokies trails were finished in the rain. Here is Flat Creek.






This was somewhere on the AT last weekend.






And also from last weekend is a fine mushroom picture to end the blog on.....


Happy Trails Friends!








8:57 p.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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I know what kinda agony it takes to complete the's a helluva a goal....

And apparently, with that belly, I will literally roll...

9:27 p.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey thanks Kevin, I enjoyed that fun camp on the semi-rainy Brookshire...and thanks for all the great information. I wish I could have hit Santeetlah Lake with you but we'll catch another paddle trip surely before summer is out.


10:26 p.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Patrick, I'd say it's never a bad hike when you've got views like you've got behind ya, there. Nice to see y'all getting together from TS and sharing the trail, too. Just started using an XLite this year - how're ya liking it? And man, I've got to get myself down to the Smokies. Miss those mountains!

10:36 p.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Congrats Patrick. Just recently started counting my miles. It's funny when you start you really do try to limit repeat miles. Great video... Love the sun rays breaking through the trees.

11:28 p.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Nice stuff Patman.  Great part to close the video with the sun shining through the trees.  We sadly do not get Yuengling readily available out here =(.

10:02 a.m. on June 27, 2014 (EDT)
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congrats on getting all 900 miles hiked. Consider yourself a lucky guy who has a wife that lets him go out like you do.

10:09 a.m. on June 27, 2014 (EDT)
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Congrats, Patrick! As always, I enjoyed it and thanks for sharing!

10:24 a.m. on June 27, 2014 (EDT)
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Great video. Love the Yuengling tall boys. 24 oz. of goodness in one can. How many days are you carrying that before consumption? 

1:56 p.m. on June 27, 2014 (EDT)
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Really nice compilation video.  Congratulations on becoming a 900 miler; which is a real thing as this song surely proves. ;)

900 Miler Songby Carolyn Ebel --- tune is Yellow Rose of Texas

We're the Smoky Mountains hikers,  We have nothing else to do We spend our spare time hiking Like others seldom do.

You saw us on Bote Mountain,  Mount Sterling and Shuckstack But the very worst we ever did
Can only be Polls Gap!

Our legs are bruised, our chins are scratched,  We still wake up at four  For you the most important fact  Is that we mark no more! 

So thank you for what you done To help us up the peak We know for sure what we have done Is not for weak or meek!

In all seriousness, much congratulations on your truly remarkable accomplishment!!

10:19 a.m. on June 30, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey thanks for comments and congrats everyone!


Ewker, right-on



I had only hiked 6 miles and about 3000 feet of elevation gain to that spot where I had the beer so it was still somewhat cold but needed some time to settle of course.

10:26 a.m. on June 30, 2014 (EDT)
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Oh and Eric, I lile the xlite just fine but don't expect it to last very long.


What is interesting is that I purchased the orginal neo-air several years ago and Thermarest has replaced it three times now. My first one blew a baffle after a year of use, the second one started leaking around the valve after six months of use, and the third one blew a baffle after about 8 months of use (became pregnant). They keep replacing it with whatever the current model is. That's how I got the x-lite.

10:11 a.m. on July 2, 2014 (EDT)
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Congratulations, Patman!

I bet you have a lot of happy memories from those 900++++ miles.

6:41 p.m. on July 2, 2014 (EDT)
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Ahh...this is awesome! Congrats on your accomplishment.  I really wanna spend some time in the Smokies but haven't been able to work out a time to do it yet...thanks for the inspiration and motivation!

6:46 p.m. on July 2, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey thanks Alicia, I sure do have lots of great memories!



Thanks and welcome to probably already see but this is one of the coolest little corners of the "outdoor internet" to be found.

11:30 p.m. on July 2, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow, that's an accomplishment!

Now that you have the easy stuff done, it's time to also do all of the ridgelines.  I suggest that you start with the route from Tricorner Knob down Mt Hardison and Marks Knob, all the way to the bottom.  Old maps show a trail there, you can show us how manly you are.  I bet you wouldn't see anyone else.

6:44 a.m. on July 3, 2014 (EDT)
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lol, John that is exactly my plan!


I don't know about manly, maybe more like "of questionable judgment"..:)


I do intend to try that route you described in November...but I need time to make mistakes so It will hinge on vacation days available.


Are you all set for you annual big trip? I meant to ask what sleeping pad you went with to replace your old one.



8:00 a.m. on July 3, 2014 (EDT)
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1) I applaud your accomplishment!

2) I'm envious of your accomplishment!

3) One of these days I'm coming out your way and forcing you to take me on your favorite trail!

Congratulations, Patrick!


8:04 a.m. on July 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Awesome photos as always.  

10:00 a.m. on July 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Congrats on finishing! I still have 600 miles to go but I will make it.....

10:48 p.m. on July 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Patrick - My big trip is in three weeks.  Tomorrow I have a warmup hike to Mitchell Peak, the following Friday/Saturday I'm going to spend the night at Franklin Lake.

I went with a Big Agnes pad.  I was tempted by some of the much lighter options, but the fabric feels so frail that I wonder if it would last more than a season or two.

12:18 p.m. on July 13, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing! Years ago, some of the trails in the park were among the first I ever backpacked. In just a short amount of time, I built up some of the same fond memories of mice chewing into the food bag and bears snuffing around.

June 21, 2018
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