Day 17: Beautiful Views, Musicals, and Chiropractors

Numb Fingers

Sleep didn’t come easy and it wasn’t due to the snoring. I think my quilt’s goose feathers have shifted towards my toe box, making my shoulders cold. If that is the case, I need to shake those feathers back to my torso. I was constantly tossing and turning. I just couldn’t get in a comfortable position to where my arms wouldn’t get numb. I woke up constantly to not being sure if my fingers were moving or not.

Bad night aside, the morning was slow. I only had a 5.7 mile, mostly downhill, hike to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) and was in no rush to arrive before lunch time. I slowly packed up my tent pieces that were hanging on various small trees. I wanted that shit dry this time. I ate breakfast and decided to head out.

“I am not throwing away my shot!”

I wasn’t excited by the trail immediately gaining elevation, but was in good spirits when I realized that I was on a thin ridgeline and could see for miles. In certain spots, I could see the clouds below me. I felt like I was on top of the world. And who wouldn’t when My Shot from Hamilton: An American Musical was blasting in my ear. I certainly wasn’t “throwing away my shot.”

The trail very much went up and down for a long while. It was the only time so far on this journey that I hoped the trail took me up a mountain. There was one spot that took me to a rocky outcrop and the trail continued down. I really felt connected to the natural world in that moment. Going down was slightly terrifying as one bad slip would end my life, but that’s what makes you appreciate life even more. The views were worth it.

Down and Down and Down

And from that moment on, it was a steep downhill. Boy, my knees and ankles were killing me. I took it slow and heavily relied on my poles for support and balance. I took my mind off the pain by mouthing along to the rest of Hamilton. What can I say? I’m a theatre kid.

The journey downhill took its toll. I slipped twice. It wasn’t a full fall, but it was close enough. I was wondering when it would happen. Today was the day. I quickly became tired of the downhill tread. By the time the three hour musical ended, I finally saw the NOC. More like heard it due to the rapids of the river. It made me fondly miss my time as a whitewater rafting guide.

The moment I finally was entering the NOC after that crazy descent.

Thrift Store Please

The views from above were great, but I was glad that stretch was over with. As I tell people, I’m someone with fat to lose. Already, I have lost weight and it was very noticeable on today’s hike as I had to pull up my pants. Constantly. I need a thrift store to show up soon because I am not about to purchase a full priced outfit only for that to not fit in another three weeks. Oh, the struggles.

Food, Glorious Food

I dinked around the gear store, bought more stickers (because duh), and got some free Permethrin from the hiker box. Score! My stomach started grumbling and I headed off to the nearby diner with two other hikers.

I was going to get a pizza, but saw they had a chicken sandwich and I knew I had to get that. It was great. We all conversed and watched whitewater kayakers take off down the river.

Gorgeous Stays

Afterwards, I contacted Gorgeous Stays and they picked me up. Their property contains several different, themed tiny homes. It was cute. I was staying in a New Orleans styled home called Nola.

An image of the lodge porch at Gorgeous Stays.

I was quick to take a shower and ended up relaxing at the lodge. I did some blogging before heading back to the house to clean out my pack. It’s amazing how dirty they get.

When the owners got back from a hike to Wayah Bald, I inquired about their slackpacking options. They had the option I wanted and decided that that would be the plan for tomorrow. I’ll start at Stecoah Gap and work my way south to the NOC. It’s about fourteen miles, but has much less elevation gain than pursuing it in a northern way.

The Chiropractor Session

When I mentioned to Wendi, one of the owners, about my sore joints, she brought up her husband, Scott, who’s a chiropractor. I asked how much it was and he said that it’s $40 for my entire stay. I was very quick to say yes. I was glad I did. My body was already feeling better. He said that after I’m done hiking for tomorrow, he’ll work on my body again.

It was late in the evening by the time I arrived to my bed. I washed up once again, chugged some water, and was quick to fall asleep.

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