Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reflections on a beautiful state

Tonight is our last night in Tennessee. It has been an adventure in itself: Alabama and Georgia feel like a world away.

Along the Cumberland Trail, we had our first significant climbs, the coldest weather yet, and complete solitude at times. We linked sections of stunning trail with roads that were beautiful and surprisingly enjoyable.

We each got lost once and we got lost together once, but we got found. We saw wild boars for the first time! We rock-hopped and ridge-walked and none of our oxen died when we forded rivers. Oh, and we saw elk scat. Bart hoarded ditch treasures and mailed them home.

The Cumberland Trail was even more diverse, scenic, and challenging than I'd hoped. It is obvious that a lot of people have poured their hearts into it! These are the people who made this part of the GET truly unforgettable. The kindness and generosity of those we've met still astound us. Thank you for a grand adventure! We look forward to crossing paths again.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

White Lightning

Road walks are not all bad and sometimes informative. 


Starting a walk from La Follette to the Cumberland Gap. Locals think we are a nuisance and/or homeless. We don't take their offerings though it is sweet. We walked a long way to find food so we are leaving town late. Hoping for at least 10 miles on old 63 after lunch. We hope to find a church or a business that will let us crash their yard. The great unknown.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Trail magic beer

A good samaritan gave me and Jo a beer each this morning. I drank mine and half of hers. That will make up for no beer in a while! It was before noon but when in Rome. 

Trail food

Dinner tonight! I went all out for this one. 


Trail Motel!!!

Sunset on the Cumberland Trail

What a wonderful day on the Cumberland Trail! Enjoying quality sunset & Pringle time. 3 miles into La Follette, breakfast and resupply, then a 2 - day roadwalk to the Cumberland Gap! Tomorrow's roadwalk will end with us sleeping somewhere... I guess we'll see!

Thank you Wartburg!

It's easier to update when we have cell reception. :)

We had an amazing stay in Wartburg, which wins our favorite little trail town award. It is the ideal town for hikers and has a really bright future as a trail town. We were glad to meet with the mayor and councilman and talk about the trail - thank you for lunch!

Local trail angels make trail towns come alive. Our Wartburg trail angel was Gary Darnell, who slackpacked us twice, convinced us to stay an extra day in town, put us up for a night, helped us resupply at his grocery store, reviewed maps with us, introduced us to locals, set up an interview, gave Bart cigars (he is really excited), and fed us pizza and homemade elk stew. WHEW! It was so nice hanging out with you and Karen and relaxing by the fire. We can't thank you enough!

We look forward to returning someday soon. THANK YOU Wartburg for an amazing stay.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


20 degrees tonight. Icy, rocky trail with a bit of snow. We are really excited for Wartburg! 9 miles to civilization.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cherry on top

A couple of nights ago, our weary feet were rescued just minutes before it started to rain. We were whisked out of the cold valley and straight to a hot dinner of lasagna. Meeting Levonn was like getting back in touch with an old friend, though we'd never met before. He opened his home to us and shared stories. He even let us sleep in! The morning brought us to Sisters, where we feasted, then to the paper for an interview.
It was rainy and cold so we welcomed the chance to tour the New Deal museum and watertower. It was fun to take a break and learn about local history.
We felt totally rejuvenated after hanging out with Levonn. THANK YOU so much for everything! We hope to see you down the trail someday!

Not the end

We were excited to run into a trail crew near Black Mountain. You are the reason we can do this hike. Thank you to all trail builders, maintainers, and behind-the-sceners! You make the end of the trail not the end of the trail.

Also, we really enjoyed hanging with the crew - we'd invite you over to our place, but we wouldn't all fit in the tent.

We are camping somewhere. We did about 17 miles both yesterday and today. We feel it. ETA Wartburg: Sunday. I am hoping for a day off but I gotta convince the hillbilly.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day Jo! I packed out a heavy and expensive blow pop to give her.  The kind with gum so it's practically two gifts!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Sequatchie roadwalk

Today ended our longest roadwalk of the trip: roughly 50 miles linking the 3 Gorges with the Brady Mountain sections of the Cumberland Trail. We could have linked them many ways and we could have done another section of trail in the middle, but it would have meant walking on a bigger highway and I didn't feel safe doing that.  This plan made the most sense, hitting as much trail as possible while keeping us safe on smaller backcountry roads.  I look forward to the day when the CT is all connected -- or at least when there are designated roadwalks known to be safe.  We were just kinda winging it.

Instead we took country roads into and through the Sequatchie Valley. We did 3 days (20 miles, 14 & 14 miles), staying in Pikeville, with our new friend (he will get a separate entry!), and here at the Jewett Rd trailhead. We loved hiking through this valley! Pikeville was our perfect trail town and in the country we made friends with mailmen, folks who were out & about, dogs, horses, cows, alpacas, etc.

Huge thanks to Tony of the Cumberland Trail Conference for helping us out with route questions! Thanks for your wisdom!

We are excited for this next chapter of Tennessee, and will update more when I can feel my fingers again. It is in the 20s tonight!

Sequatchie Valley

Relaxing along the prettiest road walk yet in Sequatchie Valley TN. I wish you were hear to see the views but glad you can't smell my feet.

Beauty on a roadwalk

Sequatchie Valley TN! Pictures does it no justice. I wish you could see for yourself. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lunch adventures

Bart has gone full hobo. We packed out a sub for lunch and he was thrilled when he found some mustard packets in the ditch. Now he feasts on a mustarded sub.

Monday, February 11, 2013


We want to thank Patrick and Edwin for their donation online. We thank you for your monetary support and hope you can follow our journey!
-Jo & Bart


Huge thanks to Maw-ee for tracking us down and bringing us the best cookies of the trip!  You raised our spirits and made our day! Because of you we found Little Maggie's Diner! Things always work out. :)


21 miles to make it to Pikeville TN  this evening and blessed to find Little Maggie's Diner. Lauren and Olivia warmed up to us real quick and we had fun sharing stories. Then Mayor Cagle (the owner) came in and gave us a brief history of the place. The food was exceptional and the hospitality was endless. Will come back for ice cream. Sent us away with stories, presents and Moon Pies!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tennessee rocks!


Beautiful start!

Me and Someday are off to a "rocky" start on the Cumberland Trail in TN! I wish I had a better picture before my phone cam died. So many high cliffs, creeks and waterfalls it's been hard not to stop and take it all in. Just a few more steps further another amazing site to behold and we are just getting started. 


Choose your own adventure!

A benefit (maybe) of hiking a trail that is not 100% completed: choosing our own path.

We had a magical visit with Ali and Choda. Thanks for everything! It was perfect.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What a day

What can I say about our first day on the Cumberland Trail?

Bart's suggestions:
-we're alive
-Jo's slow
-Jo complains too much (I do not!)
-believe it or not, the rivers are cold in February!
-my kneeeee
-my Gregorian chants through the canyons are much appreciated
-Ali should bring up a 17 pound rock
-at least we have yogurt-covered pretzels.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Journeying through TN

Well- after all the fun, food and friends me and Jo are enjoying the Cumberland Trail. Rain held off for us today and right out of the gate know this will be one beautiful journey through Tennessee!
HillBillyBart- with Jeff Styles and Jo Someday Swanson

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thank you, Chattanooga!

What I love most about hiking isn't the trees or waterfalls or scenic vistas.  It's not getting into town and eating too much ice cream.  It's not the feeling of satisfaction after an 18-mile day, or the feeling of getting the tent set up five minutes before it starts to rain.  I love all of that, but the very best part of hiking for me is that every time I go on a long hike, I have my faith in humanity restored.

It seems like everywhere we've hiked, Bart and I have encountered wonderful people who ease our journey and give more of themselves than we can believe.  Chattanooga went above and beyond.

When we were just hiking into town, we got a little turned around on the Lookout Mountain trails (we were fine, but we didn't know that we were fine).  A biker stopped and confirmed that we were not lost.  We were so happy to hear it!  Thank you for your guidance and support of our hike, Edwin!  It was nice to meet you.

The following day, Linda picked us up and drove us to WGOW for a radio interview with Jeff (thanks Jeff!), and then to Nikki's for a fantastic lunch with trail people from the area.  Linda, thank you for all your time!  We could never have set up all of that without your help!  Thanks for getting us to Rock Creek and for helping us meet everyone. You boosted our spirits more than you know!  Thanks for all you do for trails in this area.

A huge thank-you to everyone who came to Nikki's: we only wish we'd had more time to talk to all of you!  Judy, the book of the Cumberland Trail looks so beautiful!  I can't wait to peruse it.  Earl and Nancy Jo, thanks for coming out and hopefully we'll see you down the trail!  Bill, thank you so much for lunch - we'd like to hear more of your stories before we leave Tennessee!  And Bob, thanks for joining us and helping us get un-turned around in a couple of spots.  It was great to have a local tour guide for the afternoon.  And Rabbit, thanks for following us to the trail for the interview and for playing phone tag with me for a day.  We'll be in touch!

It is amazing how in one afternoon, I was able to go from "very nervous" about how the Cumberland Trail would go to "extremely excited" to get on the trail.

I know there are other trail folks in the area that we didn't get to meet - thanks to all of you who are involved in the Great Eastern Trail and Cumberland Trail!  We'd love to meet more of you down the trail and thank you in person for your time and support of the trail.

Finally, I cannot thank Richie & Shannon and family enough for their hospitality here in Chattanooga.  Because of them, we were able to slackpack across town, get cleaned up, rest, relax, eat delicious food, and I was able to recover from some bug that I caught.  It's no fun being sick like I was, but if I had to be sick, I'm so grateful I was with you guys.  Thank you Shannon for going into mom-mode and getting me a doctor's appointment yesterday, and thanks Richie for playing chauffeur.  And thanks to the whole family for putting up with me in my zombie mode.  I swear, I'm not always that much of a punk.  Bart and I have felt so welcomed here.  We really did plan on hiking out today now that I feel halfway human, but it is 11:30 already.  We'll see what happens.

Thank you, Chattanooga!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sick in Chattanooga

Lots of amazing happenings in Chattanooga, but I am stuck in bed with some kind of illness. I will spare you the details. (Trust me, you're welcome.) Updates coming when I have recovered a bit. -jo

a great sign

I'm more worried about "people" on this hike than Bigfoot or Bears!

Monday, February 4, 2013

On air

Me and Jo after radio interview with local legend  Jeff Styles. What a cool mother chicken!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

GET diamond!

Jo points out a GET trailhead sign in TN. Starting to see them everywhere. 

24 hours difference

A difference a day can make in our hiking world. Top was Ali picking us up and below getting dropped off. HillBillyBart

Ali & Mike

TN is off to a fabulous start thanks to friends Mike and Ali. Travel, food, fun and a very cozy place to sleep. I wished to stay longer but will come back. You guys have found a little slice of heaven!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A beautiful day

I have to say that I wasn't sure how Georgia's section of the GET would go, but I am now sad to be leaving. We had such a fun time yesterday with the Friends of Cloudland Canyon. THANK YOU for all you have done! (And thank you for supper too!) We didn't expect such an outpouring of excitement and support - it really boosts our resolve and makes us love the adventure even more.

Today we got a tour of the Great Eastern Trail route through Cloudland Canyon State Park. It was the perfect day! I am totally impressed by the trail system there and the natural beauty. This park is a gem of the GET. Major kudos to those involved with this project. Soon there will be a very long connected trail to Lula Lake Land Trust Trail. Y'all are doing fantastic work!

Thanks again to Sourdough for ...everything!, and to Fennel for hiking with us today! It was a perfect last full day in Georgia!

(Bart took lots of great pictures but he is fast asleep. Tomorrow maybe?)

Sourdough's Hostel

We are about to feast on sourdough pancakes and every other breakfast food imaginable. . . Wow! Thank you Sourdough for an amazing stay at your hostel!