Friday, May 29, 2009

AT Days 13-22

The following are Tarah's journal entries from our final ten days on the trail. Entries from our first twelve days on the trail can be found here.

May 14 – Day 13 ~21 miles

Today felt great! Still have tired feet at the end of the day, but they are feeling better for longer each day!
Met some interesting people today – a ranger and a ridge runner, some old school hikers and their light weight friends (some miles apart of course) a couple of guys (Big Foot & Green T.) that started their hike in March, some people without a plan, and a guy (Tom) who started the hike with his brother – but his brother has since ditched him.
We’re staying at the Icewater [Spring] Shelter tonight- perhaps our only one this trip – but we made numbers 6 and 7 so camping wasn’t/isn’t really permitted. We’ll see how it goes. :)
Today we also did Clingman’s Dome – the highest elevation on the trail – does that mean it’s all downhill from here? I don’t think so!

May 15 – Day 14 ~21 miles

Holy hail storm! This afternoon we hiked through quite the storm. It chilled me to the bone, but I was already wet, already cold, and on the trail anyway so we kept on moving – at least that way we generated some heat!
Made it to our shelter in about 10 hours – despite the rain it was a wonderful day! My feet didn’t even bother me much when we got into camp – maybe it all the river walking!
Last night after settling into bed Cargin and Scott rolled into camp. We saw them again and this morning they admitted we might just keep seeing each other. We discovered that they started on the 4th and are planning their summit a couple of days after ours. Today they got into camp about an hour and a half after us (they waited out the hail storm).
We have quite the characters staying at the shelter tonight – and thankfully we are tenting! There is a group of 5 in from Shelby to see the plane wreck and they have enough supplies to outfit a circus! We started the evening with them going out to find firewood. They tried roping it down from trees – then they tried cutting one down with one of their many machetes – they had success there and seemed to just keep on chopping! Anyway a fire was started and I think we came to the tent as the party was getting started.
Despite their many offerings of making room for us in the shelter, I am glad to be in the tent. :)
Also here tonight – Moe King.

May 16 – Day 15 ~21 miles -> $17.75

We started the morning with a quick hike out of GSMNP and made it to Standing Bear Farm for our resupply by 12:30. Standing Bear was a great environment – I can see how some people may get sucked in for days at a time! They had a nice library, Internet, phone, showers, washboard laundry and of course our reason for stopping – a resupply “store”. Everything was reasonably priced – so we’re set until we get to Hot Springs (plans to meet up with mom were also finalized at S.B.)
We were happy to have a banana with lunch today – yay fresh fruit! Then decided S.B. taints their food to make you want to stay! We were rather sluggish those first miles back on the trail! They also tried to get us to fill up on water. We figure they taint that too, to get you to stay for a couple of days. J Of course now we are at camp and there isn’t water like our data says (unless you count the stuff falling from the sky). So goes a day on the trail…
Here’s hoping for a slight break in the rain so we can scarf down some food before hitting the sack. :)

May 17 – Day 16 23.3 miles

Long rainy day into Hot Springs. We’ll meet up with Mom and Ashley tomorrow morning – change out some gear and do a resupply. I’m going to check out some shoes to see if I can make my toes happy.
Good long day – good pace! In tent by 9:00pm – started 9:00am and took an hour water break today.

May 18 – Day 17 ~11 miles -> $14.50

Today was a relatively slow day. We met mom, dad, and Ashley shortly after 8am in Hot Springs. Since the outfitter didn’t open until 9 we went for breakfast despite the fact that Chris and I decided yesterday that we didn’t want to go out to eat – but we kept it light – I had an and egg and cheese biscuit and Chris had some home fries – much less than most hikers eat (for instance Cargin and Scott each had about 3 entrees).
Any who – went to the outfitter, but they didn’t have shoes so we supplemented mom’s resupply for us with a couple of other things. Heaviest resupply so far, but it will last us awhile.
Got things settled and were on the trail by 11:30 (2 hours later than intended). Also got a new bite valve today (thanks dad). Ashley made sour cream chocolate chip cookies – yum and we got some Neiman Marcus cookies from Chris’s mom – woo hoo!
11 miles to shelter – did laundry – and a party showed up. Maybe 15 people around now. More reason for a big day tomorrow.
Money rundown today:
$14.50 spent
$6.00 breakfast thanks mom & dad
$6.00 bite valve thanks dad
$20 donation from dad – Thanks!
Partial resupply already – priceless
Thanks :)

May 19 – Day 18 ~23 miles

We were second out of camp today. Moe King left about an hour ahead of us. It was nice to get moving like we would on a regular day – after yesterday it was doubly nice. With a big day planned it was good to be out of camp around 7:30 – and before most people were up.
We made great time today, covering the first 4 miles at roughly a 20 minute pace. We made it to the first shelter of the day around 11 and had a snack before moving on again.
We had a beautiful exposed ridge hike today. There was mental stimulation for the footwork, some nice views, and it was just all around good hiking. I think it was my favorite section of our hike so far!
Made it to the next shelter shortly after 2 and had lunch with Moe King and Kermit. Then moved on to our lovely campsite for the evening. After last night at the shelter it is nice to be just the two of us.

May 20 – Day 19 ~21 miles

Today was a not so good day. I felt sluggish and slow and climbs felt like they lasted all day. I got frustrated with my pace and pushed on past a shelter and took my decision out on Chris. All in all – not a good situation.
We talked about whether or not we need to leave the trail – if our hiking styles will make this a bad trip for our relationship. We’ll give it some more miles, but our relationship is much, much more important than any trail.
Positives for the day included some amazing views and meeting a few more people. Also – being outdoors, no matter how uncoordinated I felt – leave it at this, if I didn’t have trekking poles and closed toe shoes I would probably have a broken nose and ten broken toes, so huge positive – trekking poles.

May 21 – Day 20 ~20 miles

Not really sure how far we trekked today as I’m not sure where exactly we camped last night. Stopped earlier than we would have liked since there doesn’t appear to be any place to camp between this shelter and Beauty Spot Gap. This will make our next resupply either at the very end of tomorrow – depending on how well we get moving in the morning or first thing Saturday.
Today was a much better day. The pace felt relaxed and yet we covered good ground and would have gone further had trail conditions appeared like there would have been good camping in the next 3 miles as opposed to roads.
Any who – happy trails, happy journeys and happy thoughts.
* Power music today: Queen (Bicycle Race), Talking Heads (I’ve got a Girlfriend), Kanye West (Amazing), Girl Talk, and a random church hymn,

May 22 – Day 21 ~22 miles + 1.2 miles to resupply -> $28

This morning we managed to roll out of camp at 7:15! Our biggest challenge has been actually getting out of our nice, warm sleeping bags each morning, it seems. However, some mornings the call of nature gets me moving a little faster!
So, got out of camp – and after Chris got going in the right direction he caught me and let me know that overnight the toe monster had gotten him and that after 3 primarily foot problem free weeks a strange sore had popped up.
We stumbled through Beauty Spot (not the name I would give it) and up Unaka Mountain to decide his foot needed a rest. After squeezing some junk out of his toe we moved on to the shelter to reassess.
With a decision to hike in Crocs we managed to make our resupply and move on to the next shelter! What an afternoon!
Happy in camp and here’s to happy toes.

May 23 – Day 22 ~17 miles?

So, we are set up in the middle of a cow pasture right now – somewhere between the summit of Hump Mountain and Doll Flats. We started climbing the mountain with looming storm clouds and after walking through some thick mist for a while we decided to abort our mission to get to Doll Flats. Isn’t that what a thru hike is all about?
Started our day going up, up, up to Roan High Bluffs and then walked down some annoying cobbles and then onto the balds. We had 4 balds today, and until we got on Hump Mountain, they made me think of the Sound of Music – all green and stuff – it just needed Maria singing. :)
So here’s to a squishy, hilly, some sort of night! Happy hikers and feet tomorrow. :)

May 24 – Day 23 ~16 miles -> $10

Today we woke to a dreary fog/mist on the top of Hump Mountain. Made our way to Doll Flats and filled up on water. After walking a couple more miles we had a discussion that led to us deciding today would be our last day on the trail.
Some may say that was a hard decision or that it was giving up – but in our minds we have spent 90-95% of our journey talking about everything else we want to do. The other times we talk about random stuff or about how we have had better times in Acadia with the views and technical hiking. All in all, what is the point in hiking 2200 miles if it isn’t enjoyable? We aren’t ones to do something just so we can say we did it.
They say it’s about the journey – not the destination. We’ll see what other adventures present themselves this summer and accept that as the path God has intended for us.
And – we hiked 400 miles in 23 days. I think that’s pretty good stuff.
Tonight we’re at Abby’s Place and tomorrow we’ll meet mom and dad for the drive to NC (just when we though we were through with the state for awhile!).
Sweet dreams & here’s to a whole new adventure!

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