Day 12: Teen Temperatures and Frozen Butts

The Longest Night on Trail

I, in fact, did not only not sleep well, I hardly slept at all. It got down into the teens and my ten degree quilt was struggling to keep up. My feet were cold the entire night and everything else was a temp below lukewarm. I wasn’t shivering, but every muscle was locked up. In addition, I kept sliding into the side of my tent as I was on a slight hill to avoid the worst of the wind.

I woke up several times chanting to myself that I didn’t actually need to pee. I lasted until 3:45 a.m. before caving to the urge. I knew that peeing would help keep me warm (no, don’t pee on yourself), but I had little desire to lose what warmth I did manage to gain in my bag.

The Morning Procedure

Wake up was at 7:30. It snowed in my tent. Everything was covered in a layer of frost. I was prepared and pulled out some hand warmers that another hiker had left in a hiker box. I initially pulled them out to use during the night, but couldn’t open them in the dark and I was too lazy to grab a knife. The hand warmers helped me take down camp.

I have no idea what this ice formation is called, but it was everywhere that day.

There were no bear problems in the night, so all my food was safe. I pulled out my cold soaked oats and they were rock solid. I instead ate a variety of snacks I had on hand. My food system needs to change.

I lingered around, but by 9:00, I knew I needed to head out. The vast majority were still in their bags, refusing to leave until it got warmer. I didn’t blame them. Several didn’t even have water because everything turned to ice in the night.

The Hike to Standing Indian Mountain

The hike started by climbing to the top of Standing Indian Mountain. It was slow going because my left knee was hurting, but I hiked with Pete all the way up. I even shared my hand warmers because he couldn’t feel the tips of his fingers. I was told by someone on trail that if I was going to take any spur trail from the actual trail, I needed to do the one for Standing Indian Mountain. It was worth the extra climb. If only it hadn’t been so windy and cold – it would have been a great camping spot.

The view from Standing Indian Mountain.

Pete and I parted ways since his calf was acting up and I continued on. The grade of the trail was extremely easy, but I was really starting to feel the strain. Calories are extremely important and I knew I wasn’t getting enough. I questioned if it was because of the lack of sleep or food, though. 

Eating Lunch and Frozen Butts

I ended up stopping for lunch by a deep flowing creek. I took off my pack and realized that from my hips to the bottom of my butt were soaking wet due to my water reservoir leaking. How I didn’t notice is beyond me. What I did notice was the ice buildup on my bag due to the cold weather. Lovely. 

With my food bag out, I remembered that I hadn’t had an electrolyte tablet in a few days. After eating, I stuck one in my mouth and carried on. A few minutes after the tablet had dissolved, my pace picked up and I was feeling better. No matter the amount of preparation, nothing will compare to actual trial and error. 

Cell Service!

Growing bored of just hiking, I put my headphones in and listened to some music. I passed some nice views and just plowed on down the trail. There was one section of trail that looked magical due to the way the trees arched over the path. I didn’t even realize I was hiking on a ridgeline until I saw a small spur trail leading to open sky.

I took a few pictures and checked to see if I had any signal. I did! I spent most of the day checking because I was trying to book a reservation for The Grove Hostel in Franklin, NC. I contacted them before calling my sister. I hadn’t really talked with her before embarking on this journey and I wanted to catch up. I then called my dad back because he somehow knew I had signal while I was chatting with my sister. 

Further Than we Thought

Pete showed up as I was finishing my conversation with my dad and we ended up hiking together for the rest of the day. He was going to Betty Creek and I was aiming for Mooney Gap (about 0.8 miles beyond Betty Creek). Sideways, Pete’s current hiking partner, was planning on meeting him at the campsite, but when we arrived, Sideways left a note saying that he was waiting for over an hour and that he continued on to the next shelter. 

The next shelter was over five miles away and it was already 4:30. I still had some energy in me and we ended up hiking past Mooney Gap 1.3 miles to a stealth campsite half a mile away from the one hundred mile marker. There we set up camp as Pete teased me about my irrational fear of bears.

A view of the Albert Mountain fire tower from our dispersed campsite.

Ending of the Day

Once I untangled my rope, I got the bear hang up on the first try. Word of advice: get the bear hang up before you do anything else. It will save you some frustration. We ate and departed for bed quickly after. It wasn’t even 7:00.

Additionally, that night was my first time on this trail to have need of a cat hole. Let me tell you, squatting sucks more after you’ve been hiking for hours. Privies, despite their smell and the doors that never actually close or even fit the frame, are godsent.

Before falling asleep, I wondered about the whereabouts of Clan Topos and Grace. I hadn’t seen any of them since that morning. Usually, they would have passed me by around 1:00, but they were nowhere to be seen. My night drew to a close after being told to scream if I heard anything concerning. Thanks, Pete.

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