About the Author, Amy Banuelos: “Hi friends! I’m Amy…an outdoorsy, yet prissy, ice cream addicted, fitness obsessed, adventure seeker. This April, my boyfriend John and I will be attempting a NOBO thru hike on the AT. We are documenting everything from start to finish on our YouTube channel and we’d love for you to tag along!”

Day 15

Today was the second most physically and mentally challenging days on trail. The 7 mile uphill climb out of the NOC wiped me out, mainly because I wasn’t drinking enough water. We recovered at a shelter shortly after so I felt much better but then began the 3 mile descent into camp. Ugh I really hate downhills. They really irritate the IT Band issue and then my mind starts turning on me. More and more hikers pass me on the trail. I wish I could bounce down the mountains like they can….as graceful as a deer. We did get beautiful views on top of Cheoah Bald so I guess today wasn’t that bad. 

Day 16

It’s amazing what the threat of bad weather will do to you. The fear of severe thunderstorms and high winds kicked us into high gear. Our original plan of 10 miles turned to an 18 mile day. We made it all the way to Fontana Dam shelter. We will spend tomorrow night at the lodge, then enter the Great Smoky Mountains on day 18. 

Day 17

We spent the day eating, doing laundry, eating, resupplying and eating. Seriously, we ate NON STOP. The Fontana Lodge is nice and I would definitely recommend a zero there. They offer a great thru hiker rate and the resupply options are far better than the NOC. It is expensive so if you are able to get a hitch into Robbinsville, you may save some cash. We had a wonderful day relaxing waiting for the wind and severe storm advisory in the Smokies to subside. 

Day 18

We entered the Smokies!!! I was so nervous today. It felt like we were starting all over again. The weather was awesome, though a bit chilly due to some of the wind that decided to stick around. We made it to the second shelter. 12 miles for the day. We are hoping to push out some big miles tomorrow since we want to make a stop in Gatlinburg. 

Day 19

I’m crying in our tent as I type this. Today was an emotionally tough day for me. We hiked a little over 17 miles and each step played with my head. I never thought today would end. We were supposed to nearo into Gatlinburg tomorrow but due to the threat of severe weather possibly even snow later this week, we will head into town only to resupply but get back on the trail a few hours later. I am really missing my family and our pup Bella and at this moment, quitting sounds more and more appealing. 

Day 20

Today did not start out very well. We woke up before 5a to hike 3 miles to Clingman’s Dome in order to catch the sunrise. I was still feeling down in the dumps and my boyfriend was pushing me to hike faster so we wouldn’t miss it. So with my slow hiking and a wrong turn, we ended up missing the sunrise after all. We then had to meet our trail angel and friend, Applesauce, 7 miles away at Newfound Gap so he could take us into Gatlinburg to resupply. Applesauce brightened my day. He truly went above and beyond what we asked. It’s important to allow people to help you while you’re on the trail. People want to help and hikers need it. I am so thankful for the his kindness. After our trip to town, he took us back to the trail. We hiked 3 miles to the next shelter. Tomorrow is supposed to be warm but very windy bringing a front or bad weather in. 

Day 21

We slept in which was so nice and much needed. A family of deer were hanging with us all morning. A doe and a couple of her babies. It was so peaceful watching them graze on the grass as we packed up to hit the trail. They weren’t afraid of humans and would come within 15 feet of us. We finally got to hiking and made it to the next shelter 13 miles away. I felt pretty good today but John has been dealing with a painful issue in his heel. I think if he wasn’t hurting so bad we could’ve pushed a little further. The weather is bad right now. 30 to 40 mph winds with gusts up to 60-70. Heavy rain will move in over night and continue through the day tomorrow. I am very scared.