The Smokies and Chris Gallaway’s AT Movie

My friend Chris Gallaway is working on a pretty amazing project right now called THE AT MOVIE. As one might guess he is hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. He invited me to walk with him for a few days as he passed through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Organic Totem: Pretty much everything out there freezes, thaws, grows, shrinks, rots, decays and makes a place for the next new life form to exist.
There was substantial snow accumulation throughout the Smokies hike. Chris had already weathered several days of freezing temperatures and snowfall before I met him at Newfound Gap.
Group shot by Chris. As long as we were moving and generating body heat the cold wasn’t too penetrating and we stayed comfortable. 


A very tiny Chris (bottom right on rock outcropping) takes in the unreal view.


A regular sized Chris looks at a big ol’ briar thicket.

Pretty much anywhere you looked was an amazing view.
Photo by Chris – The first day we hiked through twilight and in the dark for a couple hours until we reached the first shelter. Coming off the couch for this long walk, my 37-year-old legs felt far older.

This was from our second day out, and it rained all day until we were soaked to the bone, and cold. On our lunch-stop my tired legs wanted to sit down so badly, but I couldn’t because I needed to stand and keep moving just to keep my body temperature at a reasonable level.
To make things a bit more challenging we were forced to hike on the slanted trail sides due to a growing stream in the trail-bed.
Closeup of moist trail conditions.
Shelter, dry clothes, food and sleep were oh so welcome that night.
Breakfast in bed before heading out to six new inches of snow. Almost 100% of our wet gear became very frozen gear.
Frost himself with frostbitten hands.
Yes, he was as miserable as he looks here. That day served up some brutal and cutting winds. Despite the conditions and my painful, old-man legs the scenery and company remained pleasant and welcome.
Arriving at i40 and the Pigeon River I traded places with Sunshine, Chris’ Fiance-to-be, and took her vehicle back to Asheville while they continued on to Hot Springs.
With fresh legs, patience and a good sense of humor Sunshine begins one of many hikes with Chris.
As my sorry ass limped away with sore knees I watched my friends cross under i40 and venture back into nature. Thanks to Chris for including me in such an adventurous excursion.
Chris spends a day off the trail processing an ever growing library of footage.
Chris spends a day off the trail processing an ever growing library of footage.

Visit The AT Movie Dot Com to see the beautiful video documentation Chris Gallaway is turning out from his trail journey.

– Spencer Cooke, Effort Inc.

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