Day 13 – 17 : We Need to Talk Elevation

Last update, I was off to bed after a homesick Mother’s Day on trail. 

Day 13: Rollercoaster Wicked End 

Up and after it early! It’s gonna be another long day while I’m still hopeful to be at our goal tent sites for the day relatively early. 

Pictures like these make me want to buy myself a big girl camera.

If we were not going straight up, we were going straight down. This stretch of miles today, didn’t have a single flat spot. Every spot I stopped to have a butt break, was slightly sloped. No wonder my hip flexors are on fire!! 

Got service at a high point of the day to discover we were heading into a wicked wind warning! Just kept pushing on with the trail to stay upright! Good thing my pack still has some weight to it, I was convinced it could have blown me over without it! 

I eventually got to the tent sites we wanted to camp at. The dead tree branches looming above didn’t leave me hopeful this was home for the night. I guess we hike two more miles down this hill to the shelter.  

Made my way to the junction of the shelter and a solo lady was setting up. A spot for about 4 snug tents, but comfortable. Asked her if she’d gone to the shelter and she hadn’t. I pushed on, curious if there was a warm spot for the two of us. 

Spoilers, 4 grown men were occupying the whole shelter and didn’t seem inclined to share. Back to the lady at the junction then. Found a spot there, and waited for Sprout to find me. In total, 25 miles hiked today. That’s one heck of a long day on the AT! 

 

Day 14: Sweat It Out

Packed up as early as we could and had time to make moves once again! Not sure exactly where we’re gonna call home for the night, but we will figure it out later. Neither of us had looked ahead, all we knew was that yesterday was a long day. 

A new day, another couple hills to climb over.

I pushed out more than half of the day’s miles before taking a big butt break to wait for Sprout to catch me! I think I also found where we could aim for camp tonight. It was a little shelter, at the top of a climb. Looks cute, but the comments from previous months say otherwise. 

A few more climbs and descents and the shelter was in eyesight! 23 miles hiked to get here and boy was I hungry! Set my stuff down on the picnic table before putting together that there were 5 tents scattered all around this little shelter. What gives? 

Sprout gets there as I’m eating dinner, and a younger guy appears out of his tent. He was curious if we had seen the comments about a potential homeless man calling this shelter home. The comments were over 2 months old at this point and the tent that was supposedly set up in the shelter with trash spewing out was nowhere to be found! 

Their loss is our gain! The whole 6 person shelter to ourselves! It would’ve been a perfect stay if we didn’t have to fall asleep to what I deem “hamster noises”. Ever fall asleep to something chewing on wood? It’s not a white noise sound for a reason! 

 

Day 15: Hot Springs Or Bust!

No alarms this morning once again and it felt amazing! I’m so glad we did not have to listen to wood chewing all night! The constant rain must’ve put the animals to sleep! We had a lovely conversation with a German guy as we packed up then we were off! 

Only 3 miles right to the Laughing Heart Hostel! Walk right to a bed?! Where do I pay? 

Claimed our bunks for the night & we were off to Smokey Mountain Diner for lunch! Met a solo hiker, Gabbi, and had her join us at the table for food! Got to know her while we devoured some food before we went to get our resupply! It is never wise to buy your resupply when you’re hungry; learned that lesson too many times! 

This was on our way to the grocery store in town, how cool!

Poked in the gear store, as one does, and to my luck they had gaiters! No more stopping to dump my shoes! The uneven terrain causes me to hit my ankles with my shoes or toss up more trail than normal. 

Back to the bed we go, and time to write! Also, I need to download more shows and podcasts, while also binging my YouTube while I’m here! Sweet dreams to all from the top bunk…

 

Day 16: Peace Out Hot Springs!

The rustle of one hiker prompts more hikers to get moving. After the worst night’s rest on the trail, I’m ready to do our biggest day of vertical gain thus far! Go figure, that’s how it shakes out but we’re off with a vengeance! 

Only way to do it, is through it… Charge on!

Our goal for the day was a tent spot near water 23 miles up trail with roughly 7,200 feet of elevation gain! We sure are gluttons for “punishment” and have got ourselves a big day ahead! With 3 days of food on our backs and hiker hunger in full swing we were off! 

I’m typically in front and managed to push out the first big climb! A slow burn, up 8 miles to a water source, just over the high point of the day. I sprawled out my stuff, filtered water, and ate while I waited for Sprout there. 

She caught me and said we’d meet to eat and catch up in a few miles, she needed to keep pushing. I know there was a lot of elevation gain by the time we reconnected again, but we were doing great on time! We also both felt good overall physically as well. Nothing else to do, but put one foot in front of the other and continue!

I don’t remember the remaining climbs being all that terrible, although the elevation profile showed otherwise! I’m not sure if it was all the new podcasts I downloaded or the lack of rain, but either way, today’s been a cruiser! 

We were stoked to have this big campsite all to ourselves! Just our two little tents tucked in the corner. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and my not confronting the people who stumbled in late proved that to myself. Nearly bit a hole in my tongue from the rudest people I’ve ever had the privilege to camp with. Just shy of 23 miles today and my legs are gassed!

 

Day 17: Welp…

I swear I saw every hour on the clock last night. These earplugs don’t work. I hope this is a random occurrence and not a recurring incident as I will NOT be biting my tongue next time. 

Within the first hour into the day, on the first climb, it started to rain. Not a hard drizzle, but a consistent mist for a few hours felt nice and refreshing. It made me able to enjoy the rest of my miles to the hypothetical halfway point of our day, a road.

Must be this way!

When I got there, I was greeted by a rather chatty thru-hiker, while also eventually seeing our familiar-faced friend. Not too long after, my girl Sprout popped up, and motivated each other to push on with the remaining miles of the day! I took a quick break “halfway to camp” to start soaking dinner and top off my water. Unbeknownst to us until it was occurring, a big thunderstorm was about to unleash! We were hiking up the last climb of the day when the rain became its thickest. 

Once the rain settled to a light drip from the foliage above, I was able to check my map again, and was 4 miles away. I think letting my tired mind wander for most of the day made the last 4 miles seem like the longest 4 miles of my life. I have only one more vertical climb over this hill before I should have eyes on camp!

I was holding my breath the whole time in hopes of no rain, and it worked! I don’t have to set up in the rain either! Got all set up with a breeze to flush the remaining condensation from yesterday and it’s time for chow!

Chef tonight has prepared some rice and chicken packets with parmesan cheese all topped with some crushed Fritos! And for dessert, you may ask? Some oatmeal raisin cookies to celebrate a 24 mile day. Physically, feeling stronger every day and starting to feel more strength in leg muscles I didn’t know existed.

Thanks for following along! Until next update, happy trails! 

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Jun 9th

    Great post!

    Cheers.

    Reply

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