Trooper, at 75.4 miles in:

I reached the Ga./N.C. border about 3pm, and decided to stay at Bly Gap. What a feeling it is to know that you can accomplish something like this in this day and age. Just over 150 years ago, this would not be such a big deal for someone, but in today’s society with mass transit systems, a car or two in every garage, and planes flying the globe, a walk from one state to another seems to be so far from the norm that it has an appeal to people that cannot be described. The hikers I have met are from all walks of life, young, old, and in between with reasons that differ just as much. But we all have the equalizer of the trail, and that is what makes it such an accomplishment. Some may run the trail in under 90 days, some may take years to do it in sections, but we are all in a new family together, just from walking it.

Heart Fire, at 90.7 miles in:

Oh, also about the bear cub we saw. Seems that everyone has been seeing it and it is begging food at the shelter. I didn’t get a good look at it but others said it was way too skinny. So someone called the ranger and they were going to come out and capture it today since it seems to be orphaned. They will raise it for awhile and then release it back into the wild (or so I’ve been told).

Gumby and Coyotebec, at 196 miles in:

We were about a mile from Clingmans when we got our first chance to try out a piece of gear we’ve carried without using for almost 200 miles.
The rain started to fall, so we ate a quick lunch of Great Harvest bread (thanks Tory and JP!) and peanut butter. Then we rigged our umbrellas to our pack straps and headed north. I have been a little worried about how well the umbrellas would work in “real life” trail use. Let’s face it – it’s not real cool looking to walk down the trail with an umbrella. Especially one destroyed by the first gust of wind. Well – I am happy to report that the umbrellas kept us fairly dry without wearing hot, muggy rain jackets. The way they were rigged to the pack straps still allowed us to use our hiking poles. It was pretty fun to hike down the trail through the weather with the coverage of the umbrellas. Goofy or not – I love my umbrella!