Day 40 – Possibly My Best Day Ever Hiking, EVER!

Holy Toledo what a day! Today has had everything. Smokey’s vibes, Balds Balds and more Balds, and Rocks, so many cool rocks (And I’m not being the least bit sarcastic, for once).

We woke up in our cold 4-sided shelter with a door. You would think that would help insulate things just a little, but at over 6200 feet in elevation it’s cold no matter what. Stan and I came to an understanding after tossing and turning all night that I would use my sleeping bag like a blanket and we would both sleep under it.

We got started late by all accounts. The previous days 18 miles required an additional hour of shut eye than usual. The hiking got started close to 9. We descended from the Smoky-esque environment, curious to what we’d find. We emerged at a road called Carvers Gap. The road led to what would be bald after bald after bald for the next 10 miles. It was magical. Trail magic for the eyes if you will.

I regrettably didn’t cold soak my shirt. The high of 70 degrees today was not oppressive by any means, but it was less than pleasant on the tree-baren hills.

We ate lunch at a shelter that looked like a barn. Overmountain Shelter has been closed due to structural weaknesses but it’s still an epic place to stop for lunch. In fact there were a number of places that just begged for me to stop and enjoy the view or call it a day entirely and set up camp overnight.

Our destination for the evening was Mountain Harbour B&B. Apparently they have an amazing breakfast so I resisted the urge to go rogue from my tramily and stay the night . But damn, this was unquestionably my favorite stretch on the AT so far. I feel like I say that every week but this day had everything. Pine trees and high elevations, Balds with endless views, and rocky formations that boggle the mind. If you want a 16 mile stretch that has a ton of variety along the way, this is it. The only downside was the 3000ft decent. Near the bottom I found myself under a canopy of green, it was a welcome end to the hike.

I made it to Mountain Harbour around 7PM. A late finish but given the views and picture opportunities, the stops were well worth prolonging the day. At Mountain Harbour I ate a double jalapeño burger and plunged my feet into the on-site stream for 15 minutes.

This was quite possibly a perfect day. I’ve got nothing left to prove to myself or anyone else. I’ve enjoyed the Appalachian Trail immensely but I think it’s time to return home to real life. Will I regret this decision? Absolutely not because it’s not a decision I’m ready to make yet. I’m enjoying every day out here and I don’t see that ending any time soon. I’m out here to finish what I started, all 2198 miles. I miss more people than I could possibly mention but it will have all been worth it in the end. In the words of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, “I’m not fucking leaving”.

Stow away in my pack for Day 41 on the Appalachian trail.


Kelsey L

You’re hands down the closest platonic female friend I’ve ever had. I remember raiding your refrigerator in high school and you were probably one of the first people to recognize (and call me out) that I’m incapable of listening to people talk when a television is on. I hope you and yours are doing well, take care.

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Comments 4

  • thetentman : May 26th

    The pics are great. Do you have a magic camera?

    • Derek Witteman : May 28th

      Haha I wish. Just an iPhone and some minor filter edits. Wish I could say #nofilter but that would be a lie lol.

  • Cooper Dale : May 26th

    You have made tremendous strides and making friends and memories for a life time. Ever forward all enduring – live it and enjoy! Your words and pics are awesome.

    • Derek Witteman : May 28th

      Thanks Dale, I appreciate it, it means a lot!


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