Erwin, TN to Roan Mountain, TN

Day 35: Last night the trail only came through about three or four times, so I was able to get more sleep than the night before. We woke up, packed up quickly and were on our way. We stopped to get water about an hour in and found out that we only had three iodine tabs left! Thankfully, we still had some of our other purification tabs left. It was a hot day, so sharing one liter of water until 1PM was rough. We did come upon some trail magic at the gap we had planned on stopping at for lunch. I had sweet tea and a banana. Sweat tea is probably my favorite thing about the south. It is so delicious! After lunch we came to a grassy bald with good views. After taking them in, we continued to our camping spot. We decided to take a nap (after filling up on water) and got up later to make dinner. Now to go enjoy the fire that some other hikers just built!

Day 36: We had a nice morning hiking up to a thick spruce forest at the top of a mountain. There was no undergrowth and it was nice and cool. As we started downhill, the old spruce was dead and a new generation was coming up thickly. We stopped in at the next shelter to fill up on water and continued onto Iron Mountain Gap, where we came upon more trail magic! I ate an orange, nutty bar, and pineapple orange soda, along with my own lunch. Afterwards we hiked through an apple orchard and could really feel the sun burning. We came upon a sign about the hostel we were headed to (Greasy Creek Friendly) and had to do some investigating to find the correct way. We made it though! We resupplied and headed to town for burgers, fries, salad and milkshakes! Looking forward to sleeping on a mattress. We are planning an early morning tomorrow, so we aren’t worried about being woken by the crazy neighbor.

Day 37: Today we got up at 5AM, which was lucky, because shortly after the paranoid schizophrenic rode down to his mailbox on a lawn mower and later continued to ride around in his lawn. We packed up as we watched this go down and were on the trail around 5:45AM with our headlamps. The sunrise was gorgeous, with pinks, blues and oranges! Our first break was at a nice lookout and the low sun created shadows, allowing us to see more details. We took another break later as we trudged up Roan Mountain for a few hours. We ran into Mountain Squid along the way with a volunteer trail crew. At the top of Roan Mt. we found the bathrooms locked and no water, so we went to the shelter to fill up. We decided to hike another mile down to a gap before eating lunch, and we are glad we did! An older couple hiking up from the gap recognized us as thru-hikers and gave us ziplock bags full of food. More trail magic! We devoured the food and our lunch. Afterwards, we climbed two balds with great views. From there we trudged four more miles to the shelter with sore feet and a blister on my little toe. I was happy to get to the shelter, which is an old barn with beautiful views! I’m very tired and another early morning tomorrow, so it’s off to bed for me!

Day 38: Only nine miles today, but my feet and blister killed the whole time. Every step hurt, but for some reason I didn’t take any Vitamin I. I was holding back tears by the end! As we got to the road there were a bunch of dogs, which I got excited about. As I went to pet one it barked and growled at me. That was all it took for me to lose it. I walked away quickly as I started to bawl my eyes out. That dog set me over the edge! Thankfully when we got to the hostel it was beautiful and awesome with lots of friendly dogs.

Day 39: My 25th birthday! I ate ice cream, lied around reading, and took several naps. It was awesome! Zero Day 🙂

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Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN

Day 29: A good day back on the trail. We did about eleven miles and most of those were uphill. The last half mile before we stopped for lunch was tough! I definitely needed a break. We wanted to keep pushing though, so we could eat lunch at the tower. It was worth it as the views from the tower were spectacular. You can tell that the mountains are becoming more mellow, even since Max Patch. There were supposed to be severe thunderstorms today, but we managed to make it to camp without even getting rained on! Feeling tired today, but happy to be back on the trail.

Day 30: We did 15.4 miles today and it felt great! We killed the uphills. The morning started out cloudy, but the sun was shining through by early afternoon. We got some great views from some cliffs. We climbed a section of the trail that was labeled “exposed and strenuous” and it reminded me a lot of Maine hiking. We hiked along a ridge for a ways. To one side there were mountains and on the other it was flat and littered with towns and farms. It was funny to see such a contrast in the landscape! We had “Thanksgiving” for dinner, which means stuffing with chicken and cranberries rehydrated in the water. It was a delicious meal and a good change from what we’ve been having. Things are cooling off, so I’m all snuggled in bed!

Day 31: A wonderful but tiring day! We planned to hike 8.6 miles to Devil Fork Gap and stay at the Laurel Trading Post, where we needed to resupply. However, we got there at noon and were able to hitch a ride, so we decided to hike a bit further. We ended up going six more miles to the next shelter. My feet are the most tired, but a few other muscles are sore too. The afternoon/early evening was sunny and warm with a nice cool mountain breeze. Wonderful weather to hike in! Especially since the morning was cold. Tonight is cooling off but we are happy it is not raining. Laura says, “No complaining, unless it’s raining.” As for our afternoon, a cheeseburger and two cans of soda will do a lot to boost morale. We had a great afternoon. Definitely ready for bed!

Day 32: “Here I sit all broken-hearted, tried to shit but only farted. Yesterday I took a chance, tired to fart and shit my pants.” ~ privy poems
Today was a fun day. We got stuck at some trail magic at Sam’s Gap for about 2.5 hours eating food and I got a Straw-ber-rita! Afterwards I wanted to go into a food coma, but we needed to keep going. We ended up only doing about ten miles total, but we are still on schedule to get to Erwin tomorrow. We saw more snow flowers today and they were awesome! We also got onto a bald with 360 degree views. We would have stayed longer but it was super windy. The bald was covered with grass. Off to bed early tonight.

Day 33: What a windy night. The wind didn’t hit our tent, but it was howling in the treetops overhead all night. I got up in the night to use the privy and the stars were absolutely beautiful. So bright! In the morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. But I managed and was rewarded with a few good views. The day warmed up and I wanted to take a nap in the sun! We hiked mostly downhill and my left foot started aching around ten miles in. I popped some Vitamin I and we decided to go all the way into Erwin, TN. We are camping at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel and taking a zero here tomorrow. Met some new hikers and saw some familiar faces. I love how nice everyone is and how easy conversation is with fellow hikers. I am starting to feel a sense of community out here. We had a pizza and salad tonight, looking forward to more food in the morning! Hopefully my feet feel better too.

Day 34: Zero Day! 🙂

Davenport Gap to Hot Springs, NC

Matt (far left) and Andrew (far right) join Laura and I for four days of hiking. This is us on top of Max Patch.

Matt (far left) and Andrew (far right) join Laura and I for four days of hiking. This is us on top of Max Patch.

Day 24: We hiked a short nine miles with the boys! The day started out with rain off and on. The rain was warm, so it was no bother hiking through. When we got to the summit of Snowbird Mt., it was rainy, windy and cold. There is an FAA tower at the top that looked neat, but we didn’t check it out closely, because we were in the cloud and wanted to keep moving to stay warm. There were supposed to be good views, too! The rain held off after we got to camp and we played a game of Spades.

Taking a quick snack break.

Taking a quick snack break.

Day 25: A great day! It was sunny and warm. The hike up to Max Patch wasn’t bad and the 360 degree views were awesome! We got all sorts of trail magic at the top and some down in one of the gaps. A short and easy hike. My feet and muscles love it!

Lunch break atop of Max Patch.

Lunch break atop of Max Patch.

Day 26: What a hot and humid day! Only 10.5 miles but I still feel tired because of the heat. We didn’t get much for views, but the forest floor was all green plants with flowers littered everywhere. Very cool and pretty! Catnip and Wheels caught up to us today. I hope we get to hike with them some. Headed into Hot Springs tomorrow!

Forest floor littered with trillium.

Forest floor littered with trillium.

Day 27: Today we woke up before the sun to get to Hot Springs as early as possible and to try to beat the rain. We hit the trail just as the sun was coming up. We cruised through the mileage, as the terrain was nice and easy. Plus the guys were excited to get to town to grab a beer. The food in town was great and soaking in the Hot Springs felt wonderful!

Walking through Hot Springs.

Walking through Hot Springs.

Day 28: Zero Day 🙂

The Smoky Mountains

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Day 18: Today we entered the Smokies with rain off and on all day. We got some nice vistas but didn’t get up the fire tower before the showers started. At just under 15 miles my feet are feeling it. We saw these little white flowers everywhere. It looked like the hillside was speckled with snow! A packed shelter tonight since you have to stay in it unless they are full. The poop situation here is pretty dire since there are no privies. I shouldn’t have had so much chili in town! We heard there were some bears sighted the day before. It would be neat to see from a distance!

Ground littered with white flowers.

Ground littered with white flowers.

Day 19: We hiked 16.4 miles today! We decided to push on from the previous shelter since this one was only 1.7 further and tomorrow the terrain is supposed to get tougher. Plus, when we saw this one had a privy, we were sold! We got some great views today and more white flowers. The flowers opened up to reveal purple stripes on the petals. Sore feet as usual and I turned my ankle not paying attention, but it seems fine. Hoping for another warm night!

Close-up of the white flower.

Close-up of the white flower.

Day 20: A shorter day today, with lots of views! We climbed Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point on the AT at 6655 feet. We also passed 200 miles! We are hiking right along the North Carolina/Tennessee border. Nice weather today. We ran into some more trail magic! I had a turkey and cheese sandwich, an orange, some peanut butter crackers and mnm’s. We are so lucky for trail angels! I’m glad we got a second lunch there, because at dinner I never felt full. I need to bring more snacks! I don’t think I slept well in the shelter last night. I am super tired tonight! I can’t wait to get back to our tent. We met a newly wed couple today that is doing a thru-hike for their honeymoon. Very cool!

View from Clingman's Dome.

View from Clingman’s Dome.

Day 21: A short day today. We were hiking along a ridge line, so we would have had great views if it weren’t so cloudy! We did get some views early on, but by mid-morning we were white-walled. Thankfully the rain held off for the most part. We only got hit with passing showers and it was pretty warm out. We got to camp early and ate an early dinner. I regretted that as I was hungry again before bedtime. I didn’t have any extra snacks so I stole a snickers from tomorrows rations since Andrew will be picking us up with snacks. Hopefully I can make it 15 miles on pop tarts, a granola bar and a bagel with chocolate spread. That’s all the food I have left! I need to bring more next time.

Sunrise at Icewater Spring Shelter.

Sunrise at Icewater Spring Shelter.

Day 22: A 15 mile day today and we did it in 7 hours, including breaks! We were cruising. The terrain was pretty easy, with mostly downhills. A beautiful sunny day with a couple of nice views. When we got down to the road, Andrew was waiting with southern BBQ and soda! It was so delicious, I had thirds! Looking forward to our zero at Andrew’s coworkers house. We are very grateful for his hospitality!

Day 23: Zero Day 🙂

Dick’s Creek Gap to Fontana Dam

Laura and I at the NC/GA border.

Laura and I at the NC/GA border.

Day 10: Today was a great day! We crossed into North Carolina and it feels like we are actually making progress. Only thirteen more states to go! I am still feeling tired at the end of the day, but not like before our zero. Coming into NC we got hit with steep hills right away. It was beautiful weather but felt too hot to hike in! Lots of nice people at the shelter tonight.

Cool tree just after entering NC.

Cool tree just after entering NC.

Day 11: Wow, 16.2 miles today! My feet are the most tired. The rest of my body is tired but should be good to go with some rest. The views from Standing Indian Mt. were spectacular! I’m curious if we will hike any of the mountains I could see. Had a hard time finding a tree to hang our bear bags in. Hopefully our food survives the night!

Myself at the outlook on Standing Indian Mt.

Myself at the outlook on Standing Indian Mt.

Day 12: Today was shorter at just over 12 miles, but my feet needed the rest. We are camping next to a nice stream which should be pleasant to sleep to. Today is the last day the couple from Oregon is on the trail. It is sad to see them leave as they were such nice people! We got some great views from an old weather observatory tower today and some trail magic! I had soda, a sloppy joe, cheese puffs, a nutty bar, an apple and a banana! Yum!

Views from the tower!

Views from the tower!

Day 13: Today we did a short day, though we meant to go 15 miles. It was raining when we stopped at the shelter for lunch and we heard there was a big group already at the next shelter. Wanting to sleep out of the rain, we decided to stay and hike the miles tomorrow. I’m happy for the short day and to stay dry.

Views before the rain hit!

Views before the rain hit!

Day 14: We did 16.5 miles today to reach the Natahala Outdoor Center (NOC). The rain started back up just as we left the shelter around 7:45 AM. We hiked super fast in order to stay warm as the temps were in the low 30’s with rain and wind. We were lucky though, as people just a half hour behind us reported hiking through sleet and freezing rain! We got to the NOC just after four and my knees were not happy with me. However, after a burger, salad, chips and salsa, chili, a brownie sunday, and two beers, I was feeling great. Next came a shower and laundry, which appeased my achy muscles. I’m happy to be staying in the hostel here tonight as it’s been spitting snow and we are only at 1700 feet! Loving life.

Lots of hunger hikers at the NOC!

Lots of hunger hikers at the NOC!

Day 15: Today was a long but great day! We got up in a warm room and got our packs together. We went to get breakfast, which included 3 eggs, 2 pieces of french toast, home fries, a biscuit, 3 slices of bacon, a cup of fruit, orange juice and coffee. I think we have the hiker hunger! On top of this, we found out that Moe, a fellow hiker from Maine, had bought our breakfast for us! Trail magic from hikers is even better! Stuffed, we resupplied at the general store which pretty much has gas station food. We didn’t get onto the trail until 10 AM! A very late start for us, but that didn’t faze us. We took our time hiking and talking with others along the trail. We got some nice vistas and the sun was out. There was even a warm breeze! We saw evidence of frost and there was ice falling out of the trees as the sun warmed them up. We didn’t get to the shelter until 7PM, so we decided to just eat snacks for dinner to avoid the lengthy cooking process. The bear bag hung easy and I ended the day by watching the sunset. I had to borrow some of Laura’s gear to stay warm over night. The temps got super low and by bag wasn’t cutting it!

Sunset!

Sunset!

Day 16: We woke up late and were some of the last people out of the shelter. I woke feeling well rested and perky. As the day went on, it got very nice out and I decided to listen to some music as I hiked since there wasn’t much to look at. Eventually, we could see Fontana Dam from the trail. Very cool! I started to chafe today… ouch! Hopefully it will heal over our zero day. Staying at the Fontana Lodge tonight and it is very nice. A bit pricey, but not bad. Excited to take a rest day!

Day 17: Rest Day 🙂

Neel Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap

Laura and myself on Blood Mt.

Laura and myself on Blood Mt.

Day Six: After a nice stay at the hiker hostel, we procrastinated getting ready to go hike. It was raining pretty hard and it was so cold out! By the time we got ready, the rain had stopped and we started our hike out dry. This did not last long though and we endured our first day full of rain. It was so chilly that we only stopped once to shovel food and water before continuing on! I felt pretty sick to my stomach most of the day too. It turns out that eating all that food at the hostel worked against me! This was our first long hiking day and I was happy to get to the shelter and set up our tent.

Day Seven: Waking up and having to put on wet and cold clothes was a great challenge. What a long day! We did 15.4 miles today, the first half being relatively flat and the second half having big elevation gains and losses. We saw a dead baby bear in the trail, which was very sad! We suspect a male killed it in order to mate with the female. We didn’t stick around to find out if she was still in the area! Hiking up Tray Mt. was difficult, but it paid off with great views. As we were getting ready for the night, I noticed I could start to see my own breath! We think it dipped below freezing over night. I’m happy that my gear was still able to keep me warm!

View from Tray Mt.

View from Tray Mt.

Day Eight: Getting out of bed was difficult as it was still very cold up on Tray Mt. I was also feeling sore from adding big miles over the last few days. We had another 11 plus mile day to get through today. As we hiked, we noticed that our pace had slowed way down and that we were very achy. We decided to take our zero day early to let our body recover. We made it to Dick’s Creek Gap and grabbed a shuttle into Hiawassee, a cute trail town in Georgia. As we left our motel for dinner, we ran into some of our hiker friends whom we thought we wouldn’t see again, since we were moving along faster. It was nice to chill in town and have a beer with them! They will be missed in the days to come.

Our room at the Budget Inn!

Our room at the Budget Inn!

Day Nine: Rest Day 🙂

Aside

Springer Mt. to Neel Gap

Sunrise at the Hiker Hostel.

Day one: Today was so warm and by far the hardest hike we have completed. The approach trail gave great views! Pictures to come soon. Sunburnt and tired by the time we got to the shelter! Thanks to Mike and Amanda for joining us.

From left: Laura, myself, Mike and Amanda

From left: Laura, myself, Mike and Amanda

Day Two: Today was a breeze. It felt like we were hiking downhill all day! We completed our miles in four hours and got to set up camp early. I didn’t mind as I got to finish my first book of the trail. I’m very happy to have my kindle along. By far my favorite luxury item! I also got a small blister on the ball of my left foot. Nothing serious though!

Day Three: Another easy day today! We caught up to some friends we made at the hiker hostel and they wanted to challenge themselves by trying to keep up with us. That felt pretty good! I’m starting to feel antsy about getting in longer mileage but I’m holding back so as to avoid early injury. It happens a lot in this section, sending hikers off trail. A cold night, happy for all my warm gear!

Day Four: I’m happy to say the rain has held off. We keep hearing about bad weather but its only cooled off a little, which is actually more pleasant to hike in! Another short day and the completion of my second book! This truly is the good life. Getting to know some fellow hikers from across the country and world. I am happy to hear their stories and share thoughts about this world. Off to bed early!

Day Five: We made it to Blood Mt., the high spot on the Georgia section of the AT. It gave us some great views but was chilly so we didn’t stay long! Having a nice warm night at the hiker hostel at Neel Gap. Rain in the morning.

View from Blood Mt.

View from Blood Mt.

 

Happy Trails

Training – Week Four

Quarry at Mt. Waldo.

Quarry at Mt. Waldo.

I again only exercised three times this week. I’m getting more and more busy as I get closer and closer to my leave date for the AT. I’ve always been a procrastinator, so I’m not surprised. We are getting down to crunch time! Therefore, next week I’ll do week four over again so my body can catch up to the intensity of the workouts in weeks five and six. The workout can be found here: http://www.fitclimb.com/page/6-week-beginner-mountaineering-plan-week-4.

All my workouts were done outside this week. Here is what I accomplished:

Monday: I returned to Mt. Waldo in Frankfort and hiked it in reverse. It was another beautiful day! Kirsten and I decided to go down into the quarry and slide around on the ice. It made me feel like a kid again, a feeling I am constantly chasing. As adults, we often forget the joys of childhood. We can have them in our adult like too; we just need to recognize the opportunities! The hike took us about two hours round trip because we didn’t worry about what the watch said and just enjoyed ourselves.

Kirsten and I above the quarry on Mt. Waldo.

Kirsten and I above the quarry on Mt. Waldo.

Sun behind us at the first viewpoint.

Sun behind us at the first viewpoint.

Tuesday: Rest Day!

Wednesday: Today I went for another hike up Chick Hill using the trail that goes up Little Chick Hill. Krystian and I also decided to hike down the snowmobile trail. This turned out to be a good decision as one of Krystian’s snowshoes broke on the way down! This hike took about two hours round trip. I was definitely feeling tired and pack-muling it didn’t help. I had a hard time keeping up with Krystian, but I still had a blast. Nothing like a little fresh air and views of Acadia to put life into perspective!

Pack-muling it!

Pack-muling it!

Thursday/Friday/Saturday: Rest Days!

Sunday: Laura, my hiking partner and sister, and I decided to go skate skiing. Bond Brook Recreational Trails posted that they had recently groomed the ski trails, so we decided to give it a try. The trails had been groomed, but all that did was break up the ice. There were still chunks all over the trail making it hard for the edges of the skis to grip as the skis glided. I went down a couple of times because my skis were sliding all over the place! This actually made me work harder. I would fall near the bottom of hills, when my speed was high, and I’d have to get up and climb the next hill with no forward momentum. Still, I had no complaints on that gorgeous day. As we skied, there was a halo of yellow light around my shadow! Now that’s what I call a sunny day. We skied for about 50 minutes and my knees were only a little achy after the workout! I can tell that my muscles are stronger than the last time I skate skied. I guess this training stuff must be working!

The moon was up during our ski.

The moon was up during our ski.

Laura and I mid-ski.

Laura and I mid-ski.

Open field at Bond Brook in Waterville.

Open field at Bond Brook in Waterville.

As I said earlier in my post, I will be redoing Week Four of this six week training plan. Now he’s a video of Kirsten and I acting like children!

Training – Week Three

Bar Harbor/Acadia NP from the top of Chick Hill

Bar Harbor/Acadia NP from the top of Chick Hill

I only got in three days of training this week. Yikes. As I got to the end of this week, I felt fatigued and a little sick, so I decided to take a few extra rest days. This really reminded me how important a healthy body is to keeping my training momentum going. This means eating right and taking proper rest time, including sleep at night as well as taking rest days from exercising.

Now, as a recent college graduate living below the poverty line, it can sometimes be hard to eat right. We all know that healthy foods are more expensive and the food pantry down the road mostly hands out bread and potatoes. That being said, it can be done (frozen vegetables to the rescue!) with meal planning and eating leftovers. (This can be challenging as well when your roommate decides that your leftovers are now HIS leftovers!) This is what I will attempt to do over the next three weeks. Eat healthy.

I could also get more sleep at night. Usually, I wake up early in the morning, despite my late bedtime, and get up for the day. I end up needing to take a nap late afternoon/early evening and this leads me to staying up late! Alas, the whole cycle starts over again. I will try to avoid taking naps so that I can get back onto a regular sleep cycle. This will hopefully help me feel stronger and more alert during workouts and I can avoid getting sick.

Week three of training went as follows:

Monday: My friend Amy and I decided today would be a good day for a hike, so we headed for Chick Hill in Clifton. As we got to the parking lot, there was another hiker who was packing up to leave. I asked about trail conditions, because we were trying to decide whether to take snowshoes or not. I am so glad I decided to ask! This kind, fellow hiker pointed us towards a trail that I didn’t even know about and suggested skiing back down. We didn’t have skis with us, but we plan on returning to try it out. However, we decided to try out the trail instead of walking up the road/snowmobile trail. This is a fun little hike that brings you to Little Chick Hill, then back into the valley and up to Chick Hill. The hiker at the trailhead informed us that between the trail (up) and the road (down), we were completing a three mile loop. Our hike took an hour and a half up, using the trail, and a half hour down, using the road. What a beautiful day and wonderful hike!

View from Little Chick Hill.

View from Little Chick Hill.

Amy and I, all smiles!

Amy and I, all smiles!

View of Chick Hill from Little Chick Hill.

View of Chick Hill from Little Chick Hill.

Looking back at Little Chick Hill from the top of Chick Hill.

Looking back at Little Chick Hill from the top of Chick Hill.

Tuesday: Rest!

Wednesday: Today, I decided to train at the gym. The training plan calls for 75 minutes of stairs, but there was no stair trainer there. Instead, I biked for 40 minutes and ran for 35 minutes with hill intervals. This was still a challenging workout!

Thursday: Today was another sunny and beautiful day, so I decided to go for another hike. I found Waldo Mt. on a trail website and decided to check it out. The mountain is located in Frankfort, which is right by where the Penobscot River enters the ocean. With snowshoes, it took Sage and I and hour to climb up and half an hour to climb down. It was fun to discover this mountain and I will use it in the future for more training. After I returned home, I completed four sets of strength and I also incorporated some balance exercises.

Viewpoint on Mt. Waldo.

Viewpoint on Mt. Waldo.

Sage and I with some light snow coming down!

Sage and I with some light snow coming down!

Turns out Mt. Waldo is some sort of quarry?

Turns out Mt. Waldo is some sort of quarry?

Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Rest days!

Stay tuned for next week’s training!

Trials – The Grocery Bag Trick

Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park from the top of Chick Hill in Clifton, ME.

Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park from the top of Chick Hill in Clifton, ME.

As I prepare for my trek along the AT, I find myself drawn to different blogs giving tips by actual hikers who’ve completed the trail. I found some very unique and intriguing ideas, so I decided to try them out at home. My favorite tip is found on the appalachiantrials.com site in the article “10 Tips on How to Stay Warm Winter Backpacking”. (View article here: http://www.appalachiantrials.com/10-tips-on-how-to-stay-warm-while-winter-backpacking/) The tip is to put a plastic grocery bag from a resupply over your sock before stepping into your shoe. This keeps your socks and feet dry, as your trail runners will get wet while tromping through the snow. I have tried this method out several times and I am very satisfied with the results. The plastic bag works as a vapor barrier, therefore water from the snow stays out. Likewise, this makes it harder for sweat from your feet to evaporate. Therefore, your socks will still get moist, but your feet will stay warm as you adventure.

I have tried this method in two different ways. The first was as the website suggests. Throw on a pair of socks with a bag on top and slip your feet into your shoes. With this method, my feet were comfortable for the entire time I was snowshoeing. However, my feet must have been moving around, because when I removed my shoe, there was a small hole in the bag where snow-water had leaked through. Still pretty effective at keeping the water out, but I thought I could do better.

The set up.

The set up.

Plastic bags over my socks!

Plastic bags over my socks!

The whole package.

The whole package.

So, I tried placing an extra pair of socks OVER the bag in order to keep it from shifting. This also provides and extra layer of warmth and protection. This method was successful at keeping the snow-water out, but I still had damp socks because I sweat from my feet. This also means that the outer sock gets pretty wet and will need to be dried out before reuse. However, I find this method successful, because my feet were warm and comfortable for the entire hike!

First sock layer.

First sock layer.

Plastic bag cover.

Plastic bag cover.

Second sock layer.

Second sock layer.

With my shoes on.

With my shoes on.

With gators on, you can't even tell the bags are there!

With gators on, you can’t even tell the bags are there!

Since I got similar results with both methods, I’d say it a matter of preference. With the first method, your feet may shift allowing water to leak through the bag creating wet spots on your socks. With the second method, you are sacrificing an extra pair of socks to keep your feet only damp instead of wet. Both methods resulted in warm and comfortable feet. I will continue to try out both methods as I train for the Appalachian Trail. I’ll let you know if I come to a conclusion on which method is superior!

Note: The bags do make noise when you walk but the sound of trudging through the snow covers it!