Day 21 – Hot Springs, North Carolina – Zero Day
Zippy and I were the only ones who stayed in the bunk room last night so I got to sleep in a little bit which was nice. We both headed down to the diner for breakfast and met up with Knight, Spaceship, Fuego, and Two Pounds. I was so hungry in the morning and was excited for a good meal. I had some coffee, an omelette with home fries, an apple butter sandwich, and a pancake. Crushed it all. I went back to the hostel to grab my bag and brought it over to the campground where 7 of us split a cabin. I wanted to get my resupply out of the way, so I went to the Dollar General and loaded up for the next 4 days. I got some jerky, Knorr pasta and rice sides, peanut m&ms, granola bars, bagels, tortillas, tuna, fruit gummies, Snickers, peanut butter crackers, Pop Tarts, Goldfish and Nutella. I met up with everyone after and we got some ice cream and walked around town for a bit. It was a beautiful day so being outside was nice. Two Pounds and I split off and got smoothies at this little coffee shop and I ended up talking with the lady for over an hour. She was very nice and told me stories of all the hikers she’s seen come through this town. Everyone I’ve met here has been so nice and friendly. We went back to hang out at the cabin until dinner time. I was pumped to go back to the tavern because they had TVs and the Celtics were playing game 5 and they had it on. Knight was watching the Capitals win game 7 and was excited his team made it to the finals. A ton of hikers showed up into town and I saw so many people that I had met earlier on the trek. I’m excited to get back out on the trail tomorrow and keep knocking off the miles.
Day 22 – Hot Springs – Little Laurel Shelter — 19.8 miles
I slept great in the cabin and woke up to Camo walking around at 7:15. Nobody else was awake so I went outside and started to get my pack ready to go. Once everyone was up, Hobbit, Zippy, Gabe, and I went to the diner to get one more big meal before we went back on trail. I again got a lot of food, putting down a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, a breakfast burrito, and home fries. After we ate I sent some things home at the post office and went into the outfitters to buy some fuel and weigh my pack. I was happy because it weight about 38 pounds with a full resupply and a liter of water. Most of it is food and it nice because the more I eat the less the pack weighs. I finally got started on the trail at about 10:30, bumping into Tim right at the beginning. We talked for a bit then found our paces as we made our way up the first hill. The initial climb was pretty steep and I worked up a pretty good sweat. The sun was out and it was one of the most beautiful days since being on the trail. About 11 miles in we passed a shelter so I decided to stop and eat lunch. Knight was already there eating and we talked as I put down two bagels with tuna, beef jerky, and goldfish. Tim showed up as we were eating, chatted for a sec, then kept going to the next shelter. Gabe showed up right after Tim left and joined us for lunch. It was about 3:00 as we were finishing up and still had 8 miles to hike. An hour in, I felt the temperature dropping and dark clouds started to move in. I new what was going to come next. I kept walking and pretty soon I felt a raindrop on my arm. And then another one. Before I knew it, I was caught in the middle of a downpour. I stopped under some trees to put on my rain jacket and get my rain cover on my bag. Getting soaked was inevitable, so I hiked on through the storm. A little up the trail I passed two guys frantically trying to find cover under one of their rain flys for their tent. I could hear them freaking out at each other as I passed by and I poked one of them with my trekking pole. Haha no I’m kidding, but I did have a laugh and smiled. The rain eventually stopped after about an hour and the sun came it for a bit, but I was soaked head to toe and my shoes made a squishy sound as I walked. Luckily, I have everything I need dry at night in dry bags and have a bag liner, so when I got to camp at about 6:15 I had warm clothes to change into. Knight, Spaceship, Gabe, and Zippy were already there eating. I went down to get water and then cooked some cheddar and broccoli pasta. I wrapped it in some tortillas and crushed the whole thing. I also had some snickers, and Nutella with crackers. It was a good meal. Today was a good day. The rain didn’t want me to be anywhere else than where I am now and I can’t wait to be back out on the trail tomorrow.
Day 23 Little Laurel Shelter – Hogback Ridge Shelter — 22.3
I had a full nights sleep last night and was the third one to get up and get ready. Hobbit and Zippy were already eating breakfast and I went over and got my food bag that was hanging. I ate a pop tart and bagel with peanut butter as I was getting my bag ready and I was on the trail by 7:30. Sweat started to drip down my face as I made my way up the first climb. About a half hour in I bumped into Hobbit and then kept hiking. The was a sign that said White Rock Cliffs with an arrow pointing the other direction, so I said why not and went to check out the view. I’m glad I went because I ended up standing there for a good five minutes, looking out and thinking how lucky I am for this opportunity. The trail took us along a ridge line and you could see a small town however miles away. I called my mom because I had service and Knight and Gabe passed me and kept hiking. We passed a shelter about 6 miles in and Knight and Spaceship were both sitting and having a snack. This was also right after passing the 300 mile mark! I kept on hiking as the trail took me up steep hills and through open valleys. 14 miles in was another shelter where I stopped to have some bagels with tuna and beef jerky. Spaceship passed by and stopped, follows by Knight, Gabe, and a couple other section hikers. We still had another 8 miles to go so we quickly ate and made our move. I passed a lot of people today so I knew the shelter would be full and getting there before everyone else meant I had a better shot at locking up a spot in the shelter for the night. The rest of the way was not flat. Just steep uphill and downhill for the next 8 miles. I finally got to the shelter around 5 and had to walk another quarter mile to get water. It was nice to have drink and wash off after a long day and I got back to camp to cook some Knorr rice sides which I wrapped and ate with tortillas and some Nutella with crackers. There are a lot of people at camp, but most are tenting out. I met two new thru hikers while eating dinner who are named Casper and Vortex. They’re cool people and Vortex hiked the Pacific Crest Trail last year. Turtle and Catwoman, a couple from New York, on their first thru hike, are in the shelter with me, Gabe, Spaceship, and Knight. I stretched before I hopped in my sleeping bag and my legs feel tired, but strong and my feet feel good as well. Another 20 tomorrow!
Day 24 Hogback Ridge Shelter – No Business Knob Shelter — 20.2 miles
I woke up feeling pretty good after that long day yesterday. It was the farthest I had hiked since the start and I can feel my legs getting stronger as the days go by. I slept in a little bit, finally getting out of my bag at around 7:30. I ate a couple pop tarts as I bandaged my blisters on my feet and got everything together as fast as I could. I finally hit the trail at 8:15. As I was walking out a lady called to me from her tent and told me that it was raining up a little farther. I said thank you and continued walking without putting my pack cover or rain jacket on. It was drizzling as I made my way up the first hill, but refreshing more than anything. I bumped into Knight about 2 miles in. He was sitting down and told me he wasn’t feeling too good and was probably going to go into town for the night to feel better. A lot of people haven’t been feeling good lately as both Hobbit and Fuego have been throwing up. Fuego actually went home to Florida to get better. 2.1 miles in was Sams Gap and Spaceship was meeting a friend who lives close by. Knight caught a ride with them and so Gabe and I kept trekking along. A little ways up we bumped into a guy checking the radar on his phone and he told us rain was about to come pretty hard. Moments later, his words came true as it started pouring out of nowhere. Gabe and I stopped to cover our bags and put our rain jackets on and we kept on moving. I was soaked in no time and the train became extremely slippery as well. I had to be cautious each step so I wouldn’t fall, but sure enough one time I lost my footing and fell straight back. Gabe and I both laughed and as we were laughing he ended up falling on his side too. We made it 10 miles by 12:30 and stopped to have lunch at a shelter. Casper and Vortex were there, along with some other hikers I met the day before. One of them is actually from New Hampshire which I thought was cool. I put down a couple bagels with tuna and then got right back on trail so I could warm up again. The rain had stopped and the sun wanted to come out, but clouds still dominated the sky. 6 miles in the trail passed a road and as I was crossing, someone yelled over to me, “Hey there! Would you like any snacks or drinks?” I walked over and two guys had a bunch of drinks in a cooler of ice, a box of donuts, bananas, and crackers. I talked to them as I inhaled a chocolate milk and donut, said thanks, and then was back on my way. It took me another couple of hours to get to the shelter and when I got here Flash was the only one here setting up her tent. I said hi and we talked about our days then I told her I had to make food because I was so hungry. I had two packets of Knorr pasta sides, 4 tortillas, Nutella and crackers, and a snickers. I ate with Gabe, Casper, and Vortex. There are no bear cables at this shelter so after I ate I hung my bear bag and then got ready for bed. I’m the only one sleeping in the shelter tonight which feels different, but it’s ok. I am headed into town tomorrow (Erwin, Tennessee) to resupply and then I’ll keep moving north!