FKT: Joshua Pater - Tor de Smokies - 2023-10-14

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
2d 20h 43m 29s

Tor De Smokies




Patagonia Capilene Air Hoodie

Patagonia Micro Puff

Zpacks classic quilt

Zpacks tarp

Tac Bivy

Sea to Summit Aero ultralite pillow

Thermorest Neoaire Uberlite Pad

Garmin Fenix 7

Garmin Inreach Mini

Iphone 14 pro max

Ultimate Direction Fast Pack 40

Salomon soft flask with filter and standard cap

2 Buffs

Sawyer Squeeze with bag

Bear Mace

Smart Wool Beanie

3 Nitecore NB10000

Ear buds

Diddy Bag

14000 calories

Leki Legend Series Micro

Black Diamond head lamp

Ultra aspire waste lamp

Black Diamond Stormline Strech

REI rain pants

REI Gortex Mitts

Black Diamond gloves

Rain Shell for Pack

4 tent stakes and rope

Extra set of clothes

Salomon 1.5 liter bladder



Day 1


I started at the Lake Shore Trail head at 5:56 am on Wednesday morning. There are many water sources the 60mi of the loop, so mixing calories and staying on top of hydration was pretty easy. I would mix up 400 calories in my bladder with a Liquid IV almost every 2 hours. Sometimes I would leave the bladder empty and use my soft flask with nutrition bars and potato chips to try to keep the weight off of my back. I saw my first hiker about five miles from the tunnel. He said he had came from Mt sterling several days ago. I reach the tunnel a couple hours before night fall and headed down the Road to Nowhere and started pushing hard for Smokemont Campground. The night was going pretty smooth until it started to rain a few hours before I reached the campground. I put on my shell and covered my pack and kept moving. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna stop and sleep at Smokemont or keep pushing, but due to the weather I decided to sleep at mile 62 alongside the trail. I set my alarm for 2hrs, mixed up some recovery mix, and charged my electronics. I didn’t sleep well, but the rest definitely helped me get my legs back.


Day 2


I woke up, packed all my gear, and headed out. It was still drizzling, but after about two hours the rain stopped and I started to gain some momentum. I new day 2 was going to be difficult with all of the climbing and descending. I decided the goal was to stop a 50 miles and finish the last fifty miles on day three. When I scouted the route, there was one creek that I couldn’t pass with out stepping in the creek. Luckily, due to the dry conditions it was low enough to where I didn’t need to remove my shoes. I got to the Laurel Ridge shelter midday and there were a few hikers setting up for camp. They had come from Big Creek that morning and were headed for Smokemont. I saw a couple more hikers on my way to the tower on top of Mt Sterling and two more who were setting up camp at the site on the summit next to the tower. I took a selfie and kept moving. I dropped down to Big Creek and arrived just before dark. I used the restroom, changed clothes, re-applied my glide and ran down the road to the 2 mile connector trail to the AT. I stopped at several shelters on the ridge to get water and noticed that the springs were slower than they were a month ago when I scouted it due to dry conditions. This is when I realized that the milage on Cal Topo was incorrect. The total milage was actually 165. If I wanted to have 50 miles left on day three, I would need to go 55 miles on day two. I decided to stop at 50 miles and finish the last 55 on day three. I slept at 6000 ft just past Tricorner Shelter. I filled up both bladders and my soft flask at Tricorner because there is no water for 12 miles from Tricorner to Ice water Spring Shelter just before Newfound gap. I slept on the ridge behind a rock to stay out of the wind, but it was pretty cold. I had to wear the air hoodie and the micro puff to be comfortable under the quilt. Fortunately, I slept a little better on night two for about two hours.


Day 3


I woke up a couple hours before daylight, organized my gear, and started the last 55 miles. I felt really good to start the day and made good time headed for Newfound Gap. The spring at Ice water Spring Shelter was barely flowing, so I made the horrible decision to only fill my bladder and not my soft flask. There were so many hikers coming up from Newfound Gap. I was still moving at a pretty good pace as I dropped down. I passed through Newfound gap and started to run low on water before I hit the next spring on the climb to Clingman’s Dome. This time I filled my bladder and soft flask as I knew there wasn’t any more water until after Clingman’s at Double Spring Gap Shelter. So I thought. My pace slowed pretty bad as I climbed and descended Clingman’s Dome. I was starting to get behind on hydration and calories. When I arrived at Double Spring Gap shelter the two springs that were flowing on my scout were now dry. I hadn’t anticipated that a lack of rain for several weeks could dry out a mountain spring. Fortunately, the next Siler’s bald shelter was only a couple miles away, and when I arrived, the spring was flowing. I filled up my bladder and soft flask, addressed some chaffing, and started to pick up the pace. The next 23miles I moved really well. I got my legs back and started pushing really hard. I arrived at the Derick Knob Shelter just before dark and filled my bladder and soft flask once again. My plan was to have enough water to push past Spence Field Shelter to a stream just before the Russel field shelter. The Spence Field spring is a pretty tough detour and when I scouted it the flow was already pretty low so I didn’t want to take a chance on it being dry. Unfortunately, the steam before Russel field was dry and I had to push to Russel Field Shelter for water. That stream was extremely slow and I decided to only fill my bladder. This was my biggest mistake. I was counting on another stream just after Shuckstack that I had utilized on my scout that was also now dry. The last five miles were really tough. I was out of water, tired, and my joints were extremely sore due to the dehydration. I was also starting to have stomach issues. I gutted it out a jogged hard for the last two miles. I finally popped out at the trail head right where I had started. I stopped my tracker and collapsed to the ground. My journey was finally over. I lay there on the ground alone in the dark in disbelief of what I had just accomplished. What a wild ride.




This is by far the biggest goal that I’ve ever set for myself. I had previously failed on my last two attempts at Nolan’s 14 and the southern loop of the AT and BMT. I just didn’t think I had what it takes anymore to get one of these big challenges done. As I started on the Lakeshore trail that Wednesday morning, I was filled with doubt and anxiety. I kept telling myself to just focus on the next five miles and stay in the moment. There were so many times where I wanted to quit and the Smokies were definitely showing me the door. Luckily, I found the courage to push through the lows and not give up on myself. It was an amazing journey, the good and the bad, and I will carry it in my heart until the day I die. HAPPY TRAILS!

Special Thanks to my wife Patricia Pater and my friend TJ Pitts. I could never have done it without their support and all of TJ's guidance and knowledge.