Day 12/13 – Nero and the Zero
Day 12 was an exciting one. A quick 3.8 miles from Rock Gap Shelter into Winding Stair Gap to my shuttle and a few days in the town of Franklin, NC. Hot showers and food that doesn’t come in a wrapper are always worth looking forward to. It had rained overnight and I figured I was in the clear weather-wise the rest of the morning, I was wrong.
My shuttle was to meet me at 11am. Leaving by 9am should’ve given me plenty of time but I was anxious nonetheless because I hadn’t looked at the terrain. It’s a similar experience to how I go about air travel. I leave my home while assuming zero traffic, I allot myself 30 minutes to get through check-in, TSA, and arrive at my gate with less than 30 minutes before boarding (I like to live dangerously). I said a brief goodbye to everyone at camp (we were all meeting up in town later) and left with a good pace to cover the 3.8 miles.
It was a brisk 40 degrees and I was bundled up in my puffy jacket and gloves. Shortly after I left the rain started up again. I quickly donned my rain jacket and threw a poncho over my pack and continued on. While walking I solidify my prior notions that my rain gear suckssss. On day 1 walking in the rain was no problem, I did it roughly half the day. However that day was a tolerable 70 degrees outside and being wet was NBD. Being wet and cold on a day like today is a recipe for hypothermia. I ended up making it to Winding Stair Gap 40 minutes early. Luckily I had cell service and was able to shelter under an information booth and my ride showed up in 10 minutes, sparing me prolonged cold and wet misery.
The first day in Franklin, NC I stayed at Chica and Sunsets Hostel. It’s a small but comfortable place, close to town with all the amenities you’d want. They also have a great breakfast. Our group convened in town together to explore. Our group consisted of David “Theme Song”, Miranda and Larrisa “12 step” (who coincidentally live less than an hour from me in TX), Gustav, Jay and Michelle (who have a dog with them and collectively are called “Huff Puff and Ruff”), and Adam (who we’ve been trying to make “Oh Yeah!” his trail name on account of how much Kool Aid he drinks).
We went to the AYCE Asian King Buffett and stuffed our faces for 13$. We loitered at the Walmart next door for a bit before setting a course to test the might of our livers. Our first stop was at Lazy Hiker Brewery, followed by Margaritas at Las Margaritas (aptly named), and finally we matriculated to a dive-y establishment called Mixers. We had a 3v3, boys vs girls pool match. Sadly (depending on who you ask) the boys lost. This was also Larissa’s last night with us as she was only section hiking and leaving in the AM. We all got rides home from a shuttle driver named “Lightening”. It was one of the best days on the trail so far.
Day 13 was an intended zero. Over an inch of rain was expected as we’re more cold temperatures. I started the day looking for a new rain jacket at the outdoor store. After seeing the prices I’m probably going to have Amazon send some Frogg Toggs rain gear 30 miles ahead to the NOC, my next planned resupply. I also moved to the Onward hostel as they had open availability. The hosts are super accommodating.
Gavin and I met up for breakfast (Bagels) and lunch (Motor Company Grill). In between I went to the local gym for a light weights session, sauna, theragun and water massage.
Lastly I resupplied at Ingles but was disappointed in their lack of Met-Rx bars. While not the tastiest I appreciated their 410 calories and 30+ grams of protein per bar. I did however get a couple steaks that I grilled up tonight and plan to take with me on the trail (and eat ASAP).
I have ambitions plans to make it to the NOC in 2 days. Which could make tomorrow potentially a 16 mile day, my longest thus far (more of it uphill than not). Will I make it?
To find out, stow away in my pack for Day 14 on the Appalachian Trail.
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