Monday, April 21, 2008


Hi everyone, writing to you from Franklin, NC, where I am currently taking a bit of a rest day at the Budget Inn. Obviously, I have passed into my second state on the trip, and I can definitely say that North Carolina is slightly easier on the average hiker than Georgia was; the hills are much more gradual, few gaps to slog up and out of, etc. Regardless of the difficulty or the beauty of the vistas though, the people are really the interesting part of the trip and what makes it all worthwhile. Whether it be the stories heard while hanging around the shelter/ campground at night or those picked up while in town, there is much more to be had than simply a walk in the woods. Its amazing how such close knit community can exist stretched out over thousands of miles and across cultural and generational gaps. In fact, many people have remarked how un-wilderness like it is. More planning goes into how to get into town when a post office is open than does finding water or keeping the bears away.
That being said, the woods here are beautiful and one can seemingly go through several different ecosystems on a single day. Yesterday for instance started low on Standing Indian Mountain with dry trees and little green vegetation, but as the altitude got higher we were enveloped by rohdodendron forests with lots of wildflowers and views of the sun chasings clouds across rolling peaks. Going up Albert Mt. resembled the Andes, with steep drop offs to the side of the trail and twisted trees hanging onto cliff faces for dear life, while elsewhere whole valleys of trees parched white by winter were covered with sea-green lichen, looking otherworldly against the blue sky. My favorite is seeing a spring gushing out of the ground from beneath the roots of a tree, always a sigh of good water, and listening as it gains momentum and power on its downward journey towards the rivers.
In short its been pretty amazing so far, very tough in spots, but overall rewarding. You learn some things very fast (like how to set up a new tent in the rain) and others more gardually (like exactly how to pull yourself up a ledge with hiking poles, an oft repeated activity). I seem to be moving at a pretty good pace, and after this one restful day of luxury in town, I'm going to try and stay to the trail as much as possible in order to make it to Trail Days in Damascus, VA (a huge hiker event held in that town every year). As always, feel free to write back. The next convienient mail drop will be at 111 Bridge St, Hot Springs, NC, 28743-9231, again labled with "hold for Northbound Appalachian Trail hiker Jeff Bernardoni". Hope everyone is well, and looking foward to seeing people as I inch my way up the map towards home.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And on the third day...

Third day out on the trail, and beautiful weather again. After getting pelted with snow and hail all during the first day, and enduring a bitter cold morning, the skies have been more and more favorable so far. Stayed in a shelter with about a dozen other people the first night and learned some fast lessons about mouse control. One couple of thru hikiers from FL have 2 guys from German public television in tow, filming for a documenatry, an unexpected little bit of wierdness. Decided to spend last night at a camp next to a stream with one other solo thru hiker from Baltimore and 3 guys out for a weekend. Todays big challenge was Blood Mt, name after a Native American battle that took place there; a very steep climb with lots of stone steps, but a beautiful view and a 2 story stone shelter at the top. Was very popular with day hikers as well, so there were lots of people to talk to. The treck down was long and rocky as well, very hard on the knees, but the reward was the Walasi-Yi hiking shop where I picked up my first mail drop filled with food, and where I currently sit typing this. With that, the weather is to nice to sit inside and I hope to cover at least another 5 miles before I bed down for the night. Aiming for a shelter, but might decide to plunk the tent down before then. Thanks for reading, hope everyone is doing well. My next mail drop will be at 50 Fontana Rd, Fontana Dam, NC, 28733-6105. If you want to mail something, make it small, and label it "to be held for northbound Appalachian Trail hiker Jeff Bernardoni, due______" I should be there in about 12 days. Thanks again

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Seeing as I have computer access, I might as well try and answer any questions regarding the title of this blog. I usually avoid talking about it because these are some wierd ideas that can take some explaining, but a few thousand miles is enough of a buffer to not feel awkward voicing them I suppose. Basically, it all has to do with entropy (hence the address). The word had many meanings all relating to the Second law of Thermodynamics, which states that the chaos in a closed system can only increase or stay the same. In my case I am concerned with its cosmological relevance, mainly the fact that if the universe is a closed system, and it is constantly getting more chaotic (i.e. hotter, given that heat is the least ordered form of energy) , then the end result is unquestionably some kind of "heat death" where all the universe's energy is evenly distributed.
Some people have questioned the validity of such an outcome, pointing to life as an ordering of matter and energy that could not succeed in an entropic enviroment. I, on the other hand, like to think of things the other way, that life is simply a means of quickening the process, that it is part of the operation that would lead to that ultimate conclusion. Animal entropy is my little coloquial term for this idea, mainly because it sounds badass and isn't copyrighted yet. It all sounds very depressing, but in my view (which I won't bother elaboating on presently) it is very enlightening to at least keep the idea in mind when considering why things are the way they are. This is all a horrendous oversimplification of the arguments surrounding the topic, particularly one that has reprecussions for many fields including evolution and religion, but there it is in a nutshell. Even if it is never mentioned again in this blog, I'm guessing I'll put some time into thinking about it on the trail so I gave it a shout out in the title. And now, after boring you this whole time, I'm off to think about other irrelevant and confusing shit.
So, seems like I've finally gotten around to starting this whole blog thing. I bought all the equipment I needed, spent hours planning and making food, and yet I've put off writing this first simple blog until now, sitting in a hotel in Roanoke, VA at 11:30, so you know how much I usually dread this kind of thing. Mom and I drove down this far, about 10 hours today, to what is about the halfway point before pulling off for the night. And when I say "mom and I", I mean just her cuz she is amazing and can do things like drive for 10 hours straight without passing out. Just the fact that she is willing to take 4 days of her time to bring me down here is crazy enough, but then to do all the driving herself is ridiculous. For anybody who has seen my masochistic work ethic, know this is where it comes from, albeit in a far diluted form.

We're planning on driving the rest of the way to GA tomorrow and spending the night there so I can start on Monday morning. My first mail drop is gonna be at Neels Gap for a nice big food pickup, followed by one at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. I'll be more specific with addresses and zip codes in future posts in case, but I just want to make sure I have this whole system down right before people start trying to contact me at the wrong places. Needless to say, the first couple of weeks are going to be a real learning experience, hopefully I'll get the hang of things quickly; it seems like there is enough help at every step of the way to almost make the whole deal foolproof. Anyway, wish me luck, I might get in a post tomorrow, but come Monday morning I am out of touch for a few days. Thanks for reading, be seeing everyone whenever I return to civilization.