Day 18-21: Push to Roan Mountain

Last time I updated, I was making dinner celebrating another day feeling stronger and stronger! 

Day 18: Wait, We’re Ahead?!

Woke up to the sound of nothing, but the birds chirping and rain falling from the foliage above us. What a treat to the ears! I was very hesitant to put on all of my rain gear before leaving camp, as I hate being sweaty in a rain jacket. The light, yet persistent rain had dwindled my hope we would see some relief in weather today. 

Looming clouds or another storm?

Pushing on for 2 miles with rain dwindling to a light mist had me confidently shed my raincoat and drape my poncho around my pack. Just as I started to forget about the previous rain cycle, I found myself walking into a wall of sideways rain. As if someone opened up an invisible door to the middle of the storm! Quickly finding shelter under a tree to toss my jacket back on and situate my poncho over me. Now repeat all of that, four times, within 5 miles and two hours. The breaks between the storms get intensely humid ascending and descending these hills, shedding layers is essential!

Once I was finally confident in better weather, I trudged on to the hypothetical halfway point for the day. I happened to be occupied with six other thru-hikers! Two of them had passed me on my descent to the road as they were trying for service; their ride was three hours late! They were heading to trail days and kept me company while I filtered water and ate, waiting to reconnect with Sprout!

I was hoping she got in contact with the hostel owner to see if there was a bed for us tonight. We could push on into Irwin, Tennessee tonight leaving us ahead of schedule by more than half a day! With a successful call, we were off down the mountain 2 miles to Uncle Johnny’s Hostel. The whole descent we were being chased by some dark and stormy clouds!  


Greatful the trailhead we descended to was attached to the hostel because no sooner than we got our packs off our backs, the hardest rain I’ve ever heard unleashes onto the roof above us! Felt pretty good to hear that harsh rain on the roof above, as we unpacked in the bunkhouse. We changed quickly and went to the shower house which was a wooden barn with two stall showers and a toilet. Incase you find yourself here, caution to your feet as the glass shower knob is NOT connected and may bruise a toe or two! Anything for a warm shower out here. Bathing is a whole different beast on the east coast with the humidity playing a huge role. 

We proceeded to meet up on the porch for dinner, taking turns checking on the load of laundry. It sure felt nice to sit there and have some good laughs. I know I’ve needed more of those moments on trail, 16 miles hiked today! 

Day 19: All Aboard the Complain Train!

Waking up just as sticky as how you went to bed, does something to someone’s psyche. It did feel nice not to be rushed out of bed to pack up. We have a 9 AM shuttle to the grocery store to wait for! 

We did not realize until purchasing all of our food, sitting there in the shuttle that we could be waiting up to two hours. The other folks on the shuttle could’ve sat down for breakfast at a surrounding restaurant. We should’ve taken the bikes and not the shuttle. It definitely had me feeling antsy just sitting around, although we were in no real rush to leave.

The last person eventually showed up and we headed back to the hostel. Our food neatly packed in our bags and we were off to the trail! This was the second place we’ve gotten off and there’s a bed right there; I think I could get used to this!

Headed out and saw our familiar face, which  I played leapfrog with him for the first 6 miles of the day. Eventually he wandered ahead when I took a good snack break wanting to touch base with Sprout at this road. 

It was a long and humid day as most of it was hiked without my long sleeve on! I was getting really overheated with the excess fabric on my body! I’m glad we were just trying to get miles done because I need to keep milking these brakes! 

Good thing the bugs aren’t out!

Another long day where the last few miles seemed to be never ending, per usual. Every flat spot was calling my name, but that doesn’t really fly on this trail. In total, I hiked 17 miles today.  

Day 20: Just Don’t Look!

I did the one thing I don’t EVER do; look at the elevation profile. It looked like a healthy heart monitor at the hospital. Also knowing we were pushing for over 20 miles didn’t have me motivated to start, but one foot in front of the other!

Toe touch to boost the mood!

I pushed pretty much all day with only brakes to pee. I wanted to have as much time as I could to rest at the base of this 4 mile climb at the end of the day. 

There is a nice little descent halfway up, which has really pretty campsites! A tad jealous of those staying there, but we have miles to make! Finally making it to the top for  a good butt break, trying to consume more calories. Maybe even make myself an electrolyte water to get me the rest of the way to camp! We had two little hills left before camp and boy was I over it! The only thing that could get me through was one full mouth of gummy worms and turn my pump it up playlist EVEN louder.

I took a break and took my pack off right before the last climb and boy was that silly! Just standing there eyeing down what’s between you in bed is never encouraging after a long day. Before I knew it, I was collecting water to filter 0.3 miles away, at camp. 

I had my tent set up, changed into my nighttime clothes, and started eating before Sprout made her way! We both just made eye contact and shook our heads both in agreement that we weren’t gonna talk about today. We ended at the campsite 23 miles away. Today was physically hard and mentally exhausting.

Day 21: Roan Mountain & Back 

Awoke with only a slight coat of dew and started walking for the day a little bit before Sprout. It was pretty much downhill besides one climb to the road where we were hitching!  We were going to situate a ride there to bring us to resupply, 4 miles down the road.

On the final 5 mile descent, I was keeping pace with and chatting with a guy named ET. What a character! Super personable guy and similar in age. He was filling me in on his hike thus far and all the shenanigans him and his once very large trail family! I sure do love catching these stories, but I’d rather hear about it than experience it in his case! 

Quickly coming to a total mileage of 11 for the day, we are at the road and time to relax and stretch until Sprout gets here! I was going to sit in the shade just before the trailhead as ET shouts, “DeepEnd, trail magic!” He starts pulling out chairs, his whole trunk filled with chips, cookies, and all the fruit you desire! 

Waiting a little over a half hour until Sprout got there, he prefaced by saying to me many times he would drive us to the store, no problem! He knows the area and had a rental property close. Before I continue, I would like to preface that I am leaving some parts of this story out. He was an interesting character like many out here and a free ride is a free ride. A simple drive in one direction, quickly turned into him becoming lost and confused in the other direction. Kindly asked him to turn around and he drove us back and resupplied at the grocery store 4 miles west from the trailhead. 

Lesson learned, try to be cheap and it could still cost you! We still had over 10 miles still to hike after the resupply and boy it was all mental! I just couldn’t shake the aggravation of all that lost time. Just over 23 miles hiked today and I couldn’t have been asleep faster! 

Happy trails to you all! Thanks for reading 🙂

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