Day 11: North Carolina’s Hello and the Blistering Wind

Early Morning Wakeup

The day started at 6:00 since a group of hikers decided that that was the time to do so. I was so not into it. I tried falling back to sleep, but they began chatting. Guess I need to use the privy now.

I had more cold soaked oats and took off for Standing Indian Shelter. The elevation gain was almost 4,000 feet, but the elevation charts didn’t look too bad overall. It was slow going as my body warmed up, but my pace increased and the miles flew by. I was doing pretty well. 

North Carolina’s Hello

A well-behaved pup thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. You can’t really see it, but he has his toys strapped to his back. I had to get a picture.

After meeting another thru-hiker hiking with their dog, the border of Georgia and North Carolina loomed. I was excited to get one state under my belt. The border crossing was nothing special though. I celebrated with a high five with a stranger who wasn’t into it at all and I continued on.

North Carolina really knows how to greet hikers. How? By steeply weaving a trail up a mountain. Twice. The stairs were at knee level. I called my dad on the first and my mom on the second. I needed some motivation to keep going.

Calorie Consumption

At the creek before Muskrat Creek Shelter, I sat down and ate lunch. The triple climb to get to that point really took it out of me. I wearily chewed on some homemade beef jerky. Clan Topos stopped there for a rest before pushing on to the shelter for lunch. I watched them go and figured I had enough to eat, so I continued on. I stopped by the shelter to check it out and hiked on. It was apparent, after a mile, that I didn’t have enough to eat. I was forced to sit down again because I was tripping over every rock and was beginning to feel queasy. I feared that the water filter was broken and that I drank unpurified water. My body was doing better after I ate an additional 500 calories though.

Standing Indian Mountain

The hike to the base of Standing Indian Mountain felt extremely long. It just kept going. I got really into my head during that period of time. All I wanted was to stop and go into town, take a shower, and pass out for a day. I told myself, if a stranger asked if I wanted a ride into town, I would say yes. I wouldn’t actually do so, but it felt nice to fantasize.

When I made it to the parking lot at the base of Standing Indian Mountain, I was just done for the day. It was getting colder and windier, and I still had about a mile uphill before reaching the shelter for the night. A lady in a white van called out to me saying, “It’s my last trail magic of the day. Take it.” She handed me a mandarin. I just wanted to call this day over with, but it was hard trying to suppress tears at the act of kindness. I quickly ate the fruit before continuing on.

On the way up, I kept noticing the USFS signs warning about increased bear activity and that this area was a bear sanctuary. I guess I won’t sleep tonight. 

A not so happy me when I had to hike up more stairs.

More Burnt Food

By 5:00, I was at the shelter. I just wanted food and to curl up in my quilt. It didn’t happen that way. The wind was really picking up and the temperature was dropping. The others staying there for the night were hunkering down in the shelter for meal cooking and that’s what I did too.

I kept it simple: chicken alfredo. I guess it wasn’t simple enough because my food burnt again. How that happened with the water already boiled and the stove turned off is beyond me. I ate what I could before adding the burnt meal to last night’s pad thai. I subsided on snacks. The meal situation is becoming increasingly depressing. I dehydrated many of my own meals but made mistakes with some of them. Additionally, titanium pots are very quick to burn one’s food. I think I just may cold soak all my food. It’d be less stressful. 

The First Bear Hang

The temperature was dropping more and I struggled to clean my pot. I was so cold, I decided to forgo a hygiene routine. Since I was now in North Carolina, there were no easily available bear boxes or cables. I had to find a tree to do a proper PCT bear hang and I hated every minute. I regretted my decision to do away with a bear canister. None of the trees worked well, the wind was so strong that the line was flying wild, the line got tangled into knots, and it was so cold that my hands were locking up. It was not a great time to be testing my bear hanging skills. After about 30 minutes, Joe helped me out and a hang was done. It wasn’t the best work, but it was doable. I decided that if a bear gets into my food during the night, tomorrow will be a zero. Once it was strung up, I declared, “That’s it. No food, no pooping, no anything until morning.”

Wind Rising

I said my goodnights before rushing to my tent. I quickly shoved all the layers I had onto my body and climbed into my quilt. It took forever to get warm and even then, it wasn’t warm enough. As the sky darkened and camp quieted, the wind somehow picked up even more. My site wasn’t ideal. It was on a slight slope that caused me to slide to the side of my tent, but at least it was mostly protected from the wind. Here’s to hoping I sleep well.

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Comments 1

  • Beth : Mar 22nd

    Our method is to cold soak and then reheat on a very low flame stirring constantly. That is if you can turn your burner down. Cold soaking helped us conserve fuel. Oh we began cold soaking at lunch time.


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