Day 23: Toilet Areas, the New Spring Blooms

I Need More Sleep

I slept well, but it was not long enough. I got at least ten hours off and on, but I needed more. The bright sun was too much to resist though. Plus, the metal cables for the bear hangs were extremely loud.

Sweet Relish had given me an extra oatmeal packet the night before, so I didn’t have to break into the ramen for breakfast. I was thankful. He only grabbed it because it was available and free. I was out of camp slightly before 9:00.

Rocky Top

Despite the soreness, I was booking it. I hiked five miles in around two hours. I was starting to lose steam, though, right before the climb to Rocky Top. I stopped at a bald and ate what I could. I needed to conserve my food. I filtered some water, slathered on sun screen, and continued on. I passed a group of five day hikers who were also eating.

My lunchtime view.

The climb up to Rocky Top was steep, but it was doable. The views were fantastic. I could see Shuckstack far in the distance. I passed Ranger, another thru-hiker, and he asked how it was going. “It’s good. I’m just running out of protein options.” “Well, I was planning on pushing through, but the tramily needs to stop in Gatlinburg. I can give you some beef sticks if I have any to spare.” By the time I got to Rocky Top, he handed me a beef stick and we chatted as we sat and looked at the views.

I felt so thankful to be alive, that I laughed as I took this photo.

The Drag

After Rocky Top, things got…well…rocky. It was a steep downhill and there were rocks everywhere. They weren’t small enough to sneak its way between my sock and shoe, but not large enough to not move when stepping on. Essentially, it was a zone of constant tripping hazards. And it sucked. My knees and ankles were killing me.

Honestly the last half of the hike dragged on. It was either straight up or straight down. Everyone was feeling it. Less than four miles from camp was a water source that apparently everyone was stopping at. I arrived when Sweet Relish and another hiker did too.

Bog Water and Trolls

On the way down, the hiker who’s name I do not know was singing, “Bog water, it’s bog water!” He then saw another hiker who’s currently section hiking and yelled out, “You’re drinking from the bog water!” The section hiker replied, “You must pay the toll.” “How much? Oh, alright, I’ll give you a kiss.” It was such an amusing interaction, that I had to share.

Derrick’s Knob Shelter

From there, it went up. Then down. Then up. Then down. Then up. And up again, but steeper this time. The shelter was at the top. After today, I can say I much prefer uphill. My trail legs can really get me going when it’s uphill. I hobble on the down.

Upon arrival, I checked to see if I had service. I didn’t. I’m meeting one of the rangers who works in the Smokies at Newfound Gap, but didn’t confirm a time before entering the park. I was trying all day to see if I could contact her. I had nothing. Maybe tomorrow would be better.

Toliet Area?

I did the usual setting up before Mother Nature called. Again. Yay! So glad I get to poop twice today.

One thing I find unusual is the ‘toilet area’. There are legit signs saying that. As a national park, I would think they would want to limit the impact on the environment by not having a mountain side covered in toliet paper blooms. It is disgusting just having to walk along the steep side in search of a place not covered in toilet paper or wet wipes (which shouldn’t be there anyways). It just forces you further down the mountain. Aren’t privies better? I passed a shelter eariler in the day that had one, so they aren’t off the table. What gives? I have a feeling I know though. Budget.

Clean Up

Before doing anything else, I went to collect some water and to wash up. My legs were filthy. The climb up from the water source was a struggle. Why must they always be steep? I changed into my camp clothes and began making dinner. Ranger handed me another beed stick, which I shall eat tomorrow. I made Shepherd’s Pie. It was good, but not fulfilling. I ate the rest of the Cheetos and nibbled on some marshmallows. I was still hungry, but I needed to save food for tomorrow.

One of the hiker’s got a fire started and we all sat around it. The smoke kept following me though. By 8:00, I was back in my tent. I was ready to sleep.

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Comments 2

  • Stoic : Apr 7th

    Gotta be careful with food, I’ve crashed out on lack of calories so hard I could barely stay awake stumbling down a mountain, it’s not a good state to find yourself in and going uphill I probably would have simply been unable to continue.

    • Morgan Schmidt : Apr 14th

      There was definitely a few times in the beginning that I had no energy whatsoever to continue hiking uphill. The more and more I hike, the more I know what to do. The problem is, will I do it? Sometimes it’s too tempting to kept pushing on. One day I will learn. Hopefully…


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