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Catch up on all of the latest happenings here at Diamond Hawk Unlimited!


You can find update to date information on our adventures, events and insights on our blog.

By Karen L Amundson, May 21 2017 08:46PM

April 2

Day 16 (15.2 miles, 2,000 verticals feet)

When I was packing up I noticed a bit of AT humor in the shelter that I had missed the night before (pic 1).

For the third day in a row, I had to put on wet socks due to the rain & cold weather. Several of the hikers wanted to make a hard push today, so we would have more time on our town day tomorrow. I was on the trail by 7:45am since I didn't have to take my tent down. I knew today was going to be a hard day when the short climb out of camp hurt.

My legs were definitely NOT fresh. Mercifully the first 6 miles were not too bad. Unfortunately, while descending a slanted rock with muddy shoes I slipped. I put my trekking pole out to help catch me & CRACK I snapped my right pole.

I carried it in my hand until the next break, where Young Giraffe helped me hold the pole while I applied duct tape. It worked most of the day ok, but I couldn't put much pressure on it. I descended down to a road crossing, where a trail angle had left apples & water. I partook in both.

After crossing the road, I was told by another hiker we had to climb Jacob's Ladder. This was the most evil, steep 900' climb I have ever done. I was properly hydrated with food in the belly. I leaned into the hill breathing out with every right foot, & in with the left. Even. With small slow steps, I was right at my anaerobic threshold. Every once in a while, there were a half dozen stairs requiring me to lift my feet higher.

Every time they made me go anaerobic, & I had to stop to catch my breath. This went on for a solid hour with no flat sections, no switchbacks & not even a small section of more modest grade. It was basically like some hour uphill race, except I was only moving 2-3' per second! Upon getting to the top I threw my pack down to enjoy a Snickers bar & water, while pondering how I was going to hike another 3.5 hours.

After 10 minutes, I willed myself back to my feet, & started putting one foot in front of the other. After all, that is what this trail is all about, it just walking... right? Mercifully the grade the rest of the way was more modest. I ran across another hiker whom heard there was trail magic at the road crossing 1 mile before camp. As promised I took a picture of the two women with their dogs Yankee (the golden doodle, pun intended) & Dex (the Great Dane), whom at 175 pounds outweighed more than half the hikers that were there when I was stopped.

I arrived at Cable Gap Shelter around 3:30 totally spent. My feet took a beating on the uneven terrain in wet socks. There were some hot spots, but no blisters. Tomorrow will be an easy 7-mile day into Fontana Dam (the entrance to Smokey Mtn National Park), & I will be taking a zero day on Monday to give my feet & legs a rest.

I am now headed to sleep with a nice babbling spring not 10' from my head. Very peaceful...

By Karen L Amundson, May 21 2017 08:36PM

April 1

Day 15 (12.6 miles, 3,300 verticals feet)

I was a little sad last night. Nobody that I knew was at the Weser shelter, & this was the first night I didn't know anybody at a camping spot. It was cold raining & windy when I tore down camp. I was on the trail by 8am as usual, & proceeded on a treacherous steep decent that I came to find out later others found difficult when dry. For me it was a greasy 1" deep river with periodic 6' boulders to descend. By 11am I had descended the 2,400' to the NOC, where I had previously posted about my lunch.

After I stuffed that 1 pound burger down, I talked with one of the Warrior Expedition guys. Since he had gotten to know me over the past few days, he started to open up to me. I admit to living a somewhat sheltered life, & have never known anyone whom suffers from PTSD. Let me tell you, this is no joke. These guys are brainwashed by the army to think they are the biggest bad-asses that are better than everyone else, & to assume everyone is out to get them. While this may be prudent in the war in Iraq, where he served for 7 long years, it makes for difficult integration back into society back in the states. He can't be in groups of 5 or more without feeling uncomfortable. If people are eating at a restaurant, they need to get his food to go, because he can't handle all the people, & starts thinking people are out to get him. When he passes people going the other direction on the trail, he thinks they are scouts whom are going to signal others forward on the trail to jump him. He is just about the nicest guy I have ever met & it pains me to see him struggle so much. He feels much better on the trail than he does on town days. I sincerely hope that the trail brings him some of the peace he deserves.

Apparently my first flower pic was too easy for some of you, so take a crack at the little 3" flower in pic 1 & let me know what it is.

After lunch, the trail started climbing out of the valley. There was a tribute to a fire fighter that lost his life fighting a forest fire the year I was born. I have nothing but admiration & respect for those that fight forest fires, & I hope his family knows how many people get to enjoy the trail & forest he gave his life to protect.

As I mentioned the trail climbed & climbed. I hiked uphill for 3.5 hours, climbing 3,300' without so much as a flat spot in the trail. This was the longest single climb by far, & my legs were shot when I rolled into the Sassafras Shelter at 5:15pm.

The wind was still blowing, & you could see your breath, so I cooked dinner & laid out my sleeping quilt in the shelter for the first time. It was a double decker, holding 6 tired hikers on each level. I was so cold & tired, I didn't have it in me to type my post, & went to sleep quickly.

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