Day 33 – Bald Is Beautiful

Today was supposed to be an uneventful 10 mile day. Intentionally short to allow Sip and Soda time to catch up with us and then we’d all hike together 16 miles tomorrow into Erwin, TN and then on to Trail Days! There was so much promise in that plan.

Rabbit, Hatcher, and I took our time this morning knowing we had a light day ahead. I had a great morning poop (as is the tradition) from one of the better privy’s on the trail at Hogback Ridge Shelter. It even had a high step to rest your feet on like a Squatty Potty (this blog is not sponsored by Squatty Potty but I’m accepting offers).

Most of the day was uphill but it wasn’t soul crushing by any means. It was one of those uphills with a very moderate grade. A hill you get into a groove with and could hike at a decent pace all day if you had to. I hiked with Hatcher much of the morning. We saw a sign today to a side trail that said “nature trail.” I found that kind of ironic, because what is the Appalachian Trail if not a really, really, really long nature trail.

Random thought of the day

The person who said “you miss the forest, for the trees” was probably through hiking the AT

Hatcher and I stopped at the most unexpected trail magic we’ve found thus far. It was just a cooler in the middle of the woods, not near a gap or road or any of the normal locations. And this magic was fire. Chips, apples, mandarins, hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper shakers. There was even YooHoo chocolate milk that sadly was gone before we got there.  While we were stopped we looked at our phones to check on Sip who informed us he’s feel 100% today. The good news was short lived however.

Soda sent us a message saying today was going to be his last day on trail. He was hurting and going to be calling the end of his AT journey early for the immediate future. It caught us all off guard. I myself probably went through all the stages of grief. We postulated any number of reasons why. Maybe he hates us? Maybe it’s a joke and he’s gonna show up in camp tonight and be like “got ya” (would be a Soda kind of move honestly).

We pondered more with Rabbit atop Big Bald, the high point for the day. Big Bald is basically like Max Patch 2.0 in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Max Patch (despite my click-bait post from last week), but Big Bald was higher up in elevation and had better views. Maybe I’m biased because I’m going bald myself and us baldies need to stick together.

We hung out on top of Big Bald for a few hours. We chatted up a guy named Gaskett doing 30+ miles a day. His plan was to Yo-Yo hike the AT (Georgia to Maine and back down to Georgia). He was a super impressive and laid back individual, but definitely leaps and bounds above our level, and that’s ok.

We got to our shelter for the night 1 mile past Big Bald around 4:30. I found a neat set of woodsy little figurines set up in the hollowed out part of a tree. Rabbit and I decided to head back up to Big Bald for sunset. We joked about ruining Soda’s plan to surprise us by catching him before he gets to the shelter. On our way up we ran into Sip who confirmed our worst fears, Soda’s run with us done for now.

After an update on all the details with Sip, we continued on to Big Bald for sunset. Rabbit and I had a good chat on top of the bald. He’s lead an interesting life with a couple lifetimes worth of fulfilling careers. He’s been a Nurse Practitioner, wedding and wildlife photographer, cinematographer and he’s writing a book. We got another sunset Timelapse before heading back to camp for the night.

The 4 of us (and Stanley) have 16 miles between us and the town of Erwin, TN. Unfortunately we’ll be 1 member short for that trip. Gone but not forgotten.

Stow away in my pack again tomorrow for Day 34 on the Appalachian Trail.



It was an absolute pleasure to have met you. You are one of the people I’ve bonded most with on this trip in such a short time. It’s crushing to see you go so soon, but I respect your decision. I know it won’t be the last time we see each other. Anytime you’re passing through San Antonio you’ve got a place to stay my brother. Take care and be well.

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