Bear Sighting While on Mushrooms
Bama➡️Baxter Day 87&88
Day 87: 22 miles
This morning we were all up around 4:30 a.m. to beat the sunrise up on McAfee Knob. I was so excited hiking out that it felt like the couple of miles flew by. When we arrived, the timing was absolutely perfect. The sun was just beginning to rise. A few other hikers were there as well who we had met before: Plum, Pinto, Mountain Crusher, and some other familiar faces.
All of us watched the most incredible sunrise from on top of McAfee Knob. It was truly a perfect morning. We all got our pictures taken a bunch of different times when the sunrise was in various stages. I was especially excited about some of the group photos that Tripod took of all of us.
We stayed up top for quite some time before finally packing up to continue on. Coming down off the Knob, there was a shelter, so we all stopped off there to use the privy before going on. We walked for a few more miles after that until we came to Tinker Cliffs. There we found a great place to take another break. I whipped out a family sized bag of lays and some French onion dip to eat while we sat there. It was a pretty great break.
From there we walked another couple of miles to the Lamberts Meadow Shelter. We had to grab water before continuing along. After topping off on water, we pushed out another five or so miles to Hay Rock before breaking. It’s been nice doing slightly bigger miles in between our breaks.
From Hay Rock, it was only four miles to a road that we could walk into Daleville, VA. All of us had to do a light resupply for the next few days. We wound up getting into town around 3:00 p.m., which was great. My first stop was to Kroger to get my resupply. Then we all went over to a BBQ place across the street for late lunch. I got a platter with ribs, baked beans, and sweet potato fries. The ribs were decent, but the sides were great. I just wound up feeding my leftover meat to Roxy, which I’m sure she didn’t mind.
After eating, I walked over to goodwill. I recently ripped a hole in my spandex shorts and want to get a backup pair in case it gets worse. And after walking around goodwill for just a few minutes I actually found the perfect pair of shorts. That was amazing. Then I walked across the street to meet up with everybody. I found Tripod and we walked back to the trailhead together around 5:45 p.m. Fortunately, we only had five miles to go.
There was a nice climb to start, but luckily it was fairly gradual. I felt strong from all of the food in town as well. A couple miles in we passed the 1/3 way marker! Tripod took some pictures of me which was super nice of him. I definitely wasn’t expecting to pass this marker today, so it was a cool surprise.
Then another mile or so down trail, we ran into Smokey. I looked him in the eyes and he looked unbelievably stoned. But it turns out he had taken some shrooms earlier in the day. The timing was great too because just after Tripod and I caught up to him we saw two bears. I’m glad he didn’t have to face the bears alone while on mushrooms.
The bears lingered around for a while, so I got a really good look at them. Then they ran up through the woods and out of sight. As we continued walking though, we realized the trail curved up and switch backed in the direction that they had ran. And sure enough, we saw both the bears again just minutes later. This next time we got an even better look at them from a very comfortable distance.
After that we continued on to the shelter. I was so happy about seeing the bears that the remaining miles flew on by. We got to the shelter around 7:30/8:00 p.m. and only Pinto we set up inside! So I decided to join her for the night. Everyone else wound up deciding to tent other than Boosted and I. We got situated in the shelter and then I ate some snacks before calling it a night.
Day 88: 27 miles
This morning I woke up and my sleeping pad was deflated. While I was at trail days, I had a hunch that it was deflating, but I was in total denial. I thought that maybe it was just deflating a bit because I had it blown up for two to three days at trail days. But in reality, it clearly had a leak or a valve issue. While I was at trail days, I could have taken the pad to a booth to be repaired but I never did. Now I’m paying the price.
We all slept in a bit this morning, which was nice. Around 6:30/7:00 a.m., all of us woke up and began packing up. Then we didn’t even wind up hiking until around 8:00 a.m. I enjoyed the slow start to the morning for sure. Once we got to walking, we did about five miles before stopping off at a creek. I ate a bag salad that I packed out which was really good. Then I filled up on water because we had to carry it for the next ten miles. That is one of the longer water carries that we’ve done on the AT. It isn’t that long, but when you’re used to more frequent water sources it can feel a lot longer.
After our break by the creek, we set out and had a pretty gradual climb. It went on for about four or so miles, but the grade wasn’t too bad. We wound up pushing out 7.8 miles before taking our next break. I was surprised that the time really felt like it was flying by. We’re getting stronger every day.
When we arrived at the spur to the Bobblets Gap Shelter we decided to just hang out by the junction instead of doing the .2 down to the shelter. While we were sitting there, a hiker passed by who I recognized immediately. He was one of the two guys that were apparently making crude comments about myself and another hiker at a trail magic set up. When he passed by, he came over and talked to us briefly before continuing on.
All of us sat there at the junction and took a nice long break. Just as we were packing up to head out Spring Break and Tia caught up to us. They were only planning to do about seven more miles today. But Boosted, Sweet Pea, Tripod, and I were thinking about doing about 13 more. That way we could get into town a bit early two days from now and actually spend the night in town. Rather than getting in the next morning and just doing a quick in and out resupply.
When we headed out from the junction after our break, there was a small, gradual climb. This stretch of trail I am carrying the massive 4.5lb shelter, and you certainly notice the weight gain. Even the small climb definitely felt a bit harder than before. Over the next couple of miles, the AT crossed a road about three times, and Tripod walked the road because he’s already done the AT. We all walked the trail and when we would get to a road, he would already be there, which was funny.
After about four or five miles, we came to our next water source. Everyone stopped there for a quick break and to fill up. Then we pushed on and had to do one last climb before our next break. After that it was all downhill to the Cove Mountain Shelter where we planned to take a long break.
Because we’re doing a longer day today, we decided to take long break before doing the final seven miles today. I made two ramens for early dinner and ate some snacks. Over this last stretch of miles, my underwear was causing chaffing at the top of my butt, which was super uncomfortable. So I had to apply some topical ointment to try and keep the chaffing at bay.
Towards the end of our break, Spring Break and Tia caught up. They let us know that they were gonna do a shorter day and try to get into town the day after tomorrow. But we’re gonna get in tomorrow night hopefully. They also let us know that Smokey had been behind all day because his feet were hurting him. He’s gonna do a shorter day as well and hopefully feel better. He just switched from boots to trail runners so sometimes that can be an adjustment.
After a while, we headed out from our final break spot and set out to finish the hiking day. The next stretch was pretty cruisy with some gradual downhill for the first few miles. Then we had a 1,000-foot climb over about 1.5 miles. I expected it to be awful but was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t kick my ass too bad. And after that climb, the trail was mostly all flat or downhill until we got to our shelter for the night.
It got dark out just as we were arriving to the shelter. All of us stopped off for water just before we got to the shelter. That way we didn’t have to go exploring around the shelter in the dark to find a water source. Then we walked the last half mile or so to the Bryant Ridge Shelter. The shelter was a super nice double decker with a large covered porch. Because we were arriving around 9:00 p.m., we all just cowboyed on the porch so that we wouldn’t bother anyone too much. Sweet Pea wanted to tent rather than sleep in the shelter, so he walked a short distance back along the trail to a tent site. But he’s going to walk over in the morning so that we can all hike out together.
Once I was set up on the porch, I ate a bunch of snacks instead of cooking a hot dinner. We all hung out by the picnic table for a while before calling it a night. After smoking some weed and decompressing a bit, I decided to call it a night. I also put loads of aquaphor on because my butt chaffing was so incredibly painful. It’s definitely the worst that it’s ever been. Hopefully that helps it heal up overnight.
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