After “The Day” (Days 29- 31)
What can be said? Where do we go? How do we top day 28? As I have talked with a few other hikers that also went through the same or at least similar miles to get through the Roan Highlands on that beautiful but dangerous 29 mile trek, we have jokingly but seriously referred to it as “The Day”. Logan, Sim, and I had started out from the same hostel on “The Day” but all were in different spots during that hike. I usually stay to myself hiking as I stop a lot to shoot video for my YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/@Fortuneadventures). Atticus was at the next shelter in front of where we started, so his day was about 24 miles…but nonetheless still… “the Day”.
So as I crossed the summit of Hump mountain with 50-70 mph winds slapping my face and nearly knocking me off the trail, I quickly started to descend with a beautiful sunset to light my way as it shot beautiful colors across the sky and reflected on the snow and ice.
I knew I had to get down to somewhat of a covered area to put my puffy on and my headlamp as now I would have to descend thousands of feet in about 5 miles in the dark to complete “The Day”. There were big drifts, some ice, but it was fairly decent going down to get back to warmer less snowy conditions. I actually made it to 19E about 10:15 PM. My long day was finally over and I had survived. I was cold, in pain, but alive. As I looked for the Hostel I was going to stay at, I overshot the driveway and ended up in a private homeowners driveway with a “No Trespassing” sign. I was confused. I think my brain was tired of thinking. I called the hostel/B and B. I felt so bad as I was afraid I was waking them. They explained how to get there. That’s when I realized I walked too far. I got to the hostel, ate some food from my bear can, drank a lot of water, took what seemed like an hour shower just to warm up,then jumped into a bed. I would settle up in the morning before leaving. I slept good. I slept hard. But I did not sleep long. It was around 12:30 am last time I seen the time. I then was awake at 5am. This is what my body does. It wants to walk. I might need rest, but it doesn’t want to. It’s always restless and ready to go. I laid there for a bit, looking at my phone before getting up and ready to go for the day. I settled up after having an excellent breakfast with thousands of calories and boom on my way again not even 10 hours later.
I started off and there was a little chill in the air, but nothing bad at all…. Especially in comparison to what I had just been through. That day had a climb to start but nothing huge like what I had grown accustomed to. I went through forest, over water, through mud…and then a beautiful open meadow looking area. The terrain was so much different. More open more spring like. I was feeling so excited as the warmth of the sun beat up on my face. It was like mother nature was giving me a big hug as she whispered in my ear to turn around and look. I looked behind me and there it was OMG!!! The whole Roan Highlands Range. You could see it all. Everything I walked through the day before. I felt so small..yet so strong. Maybe the strongest I had ever felt. I was overcome with emotions as I realized…I…Just…Conquered…That!!! The Roan Highlands were in the bag.
Not that I need more energy or more pep…but this definitely put an extra pep in my step. I even sent that picture to my fiancee excitedly telling her, “Babe, I just walked across that…yesterday.” She was almost as excited as me. What a great thing to see after the most challenging day you’d ever had hiking.
I continued on, feeling strong and planning to push through to about 18 or so miles. The day was great, the weather perfect. Beautiful mountains, rhododendrons, water, sunshine,birds singing. It was great. Some steep climbs, but nothing crazy. I came across a creek and as I crossed the bridge, to the left as I was looking up in the trees, I noticed a perfect spot for a tent. I did not want to continue to a shelter as it was several miles. I was tired and hungry so decided to set up camp for the night. I ate a dehydrated meal, a peanut butter and pepperoni tortilla and a pop tart. This was also the first time I mixed coffee with tea. It was good ….but probably something I would never drink outside of a thru-hike. I slept good but was cold and restless too.
Upon getting up the next morning (probably 25°), I tried to get the frost off of my tent as much as I could. Then I remembered I was pushing through to a hostel that night so it didn’t need to be perfect. It was too cold to eat. It was too cold to function haha. I managed to get my pack,packed and just took off to get warm. About 3 miles in I felt warm enough to eat. I came across a tiny falls called “Hardcore” I thought that name was funny and when talking about it on my video I unknowingly said “Hardcore” like a death metal singer. It just came natural I guess. More climbing throughout the day. It was a sunny mild day. Nothing too big happening, but had to hike 20 miles to get to “Boots Off Campground and Hostel.”
I called the Hostel when I finally had service to make sure my bunk was reserved. I was made aware that they have a shuttle that leaves at 6pm to go to town for McDonald’s etc. Wait…McDonald’s?!?!! Let me stop here to tell you…most of my decisions are based on food ..how hungry I am, when and where town food is available etc us oftentimes deciding factors of almost everything for me. I never recouped from my hiker hunger on the PCT last year. Imagine how bad it is now. I’m not a picky eater…but currently I’ll eat almost anything lol. So when I knew this was an option I had a new motivation…but…I knew it would be close by that time.
So I continued on my day cruising pretty good, enjoying the scenery, the climbs,the conquering and the workouts. I then came to Pond Mountain Wilderness. Wow!!!! It was so beautiful. I remember passing this old log home or structure before the wilderness border that I kinda fantasized about cleaning up and living in. It was perfect ..well in my mind.
Ok ok. Maybe it wasn’t perfect. Maybe it needed some work. A lot of work. Ok maybe a complete demolish and fresh start…but the location was great haha. As I walked through Pond Mountain Wilderness I was just amazed how beautiful it was. Trees, water, rock formations, the trail..it was all glorious. Then I walked in between these two rock formations that were like huge walls on both sides. I was taking pictures and recording etc. A little too engrossed as I noticed a 1/4 mile later I couldn’t hear Laurel Falls anymore. I had gotten off trail and into the high water route…oops. so I had to backtrack and make the turn onto the rocky descent down to Laurel Falls. My knees and hips were bothering me some so I felt uneasy and sidestepped all the way down. I definitely did not look like a professional Thru-Hiker. Ask me if I cared. Haha. Getting from one point to the next us my concern…not what I look like doing it. I finally got to the falls…wow it was beautiful. I took a few pictures and continued on as there were too many people around for my liking.
As I pushed towards Pond Mountain which would be my final push for the day, I filled up my water bottles one more time, had a couple quick conversation with some day hikers and grabbed a quick snack. I then started to climb Pond Mountain which seemed like it would never end. Going back to the food topic earlier…it was all because of FOOD!!!! All I could do is think about food…possible choices at McDonald’s…how many combo meals would I get. Would I dip my fries in a shake? Would I get a 10 piece or a 20 to go with my burgers. How many cookies should I get? Well I kept pushing along then I reached the highest part of the trail on the mountain…but it wasn’t the summit and there was no side trail to the summit. I ALWAYS take the side trail if there is one to summit. So that was disappointing. Even more disappointing was that I finally had accepted I wouldn’t make it in time for the shuttle into town ?. So I called Boots Off. I inquired about food that they had in freezer. They had plenty of things that I could eat that night at least. So I continued my descent. Got a couple burritos, a hot pocket, some chips, ice cream, mountain dew and a slice of pizza and felt a little better. ? I was able however to go into town the next day as I decided to take a zero because there was a cold front coming through with rain all day turning to freezing temps. I can deal with rain or freezing temps…not both. I can deal with snow and freezing temps…but not rain. I know I’m weird haha…but it’s the safest way in my opinion. The zero proved to be helpful. A day of rest. A lot of calories. And then some more calories. And then…… What would end up being the turning point of my thru hike.
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