Day 45: Reflection Time and Credit Card Suspicions

Sleep on Trail

I’m starting to no longer wear earplugs. I always start off with them and they disappear sometime in the night. That’s how I knew it had started to rain at 4:00am. Great, I thought sleepily. I fell back asleep until it was time to wake. 

On a separate note: an overnight backpacker asked if we ever slept through the night. Absolutely not. Most sleep sporadicly. Good sleep on trail is relative. You can have good and bad. Compared to a nice bed, it’s all bad. You just get used to waking up constantly and falling back asleep in an instant. 

Sandy Tents and Salty Drinks

When I awoke at 6:30, it was still raining. I did as much as I could in my tent, including eating a small breakfast, before packing it up. My tent was soaked. And covered in sand. Fuck this. I took my twice as heavy tent to the stream and let the water run over it. Hopefully taking sand with it. I packed it into its bag before squeezing the water out. It was still sandy. I dumped it in my pack and hoped that the rain would clear up by the time we were ready to set up camp.

We planned on camping at the Dennis Cove Road, before hiking to the town of Hampton for a nero. Tuesday was reserved for some aqua blazing on Watauga Lake. We left the campsite with that plan. Before heading out, I dry bumped a new-to-me electrolyte called LMNT. It’s pretty popular, but expensive. As I was lifting the packet to my mouth, Fine Young Buck said, “I can’t watch this.” He turned away as I gargled. The flavor was extremely intense and salty. My heart felt weird and I made a strong mental note not to do that again. The others headed out, but I lingered behind. Today didn’t feel like a socializing day – at least the hiking part.

Reflection Time

I’m glad I was in the back. I had time to reflect. From what I’ve experienced, you can’t really force yourself to reflect when you want to. It has to come on naturally. Today, my mind took me through three different topics. 


I was an awful sister to my younger sister when we were younger. A two year age gap is practically nothing, but as kids, it was everything. She wanted to play with my friends when I didn’t want her too. She got back at me, though, in my middle school years.


My family has traveled to Montreat, North Carolina two to three times when I was younger (age 10 to 14). We went there for a Presbyterian youth conference that is held every year during the summer. My mother went as a youth group leader and the rest of the family tagged along. The irony is, my mother got her calling to serve there whereas that’s the place I began losing faith in God. I’m no longer religious. 


Lastly, I finally figured out why I, as a kid, never thought I could hike the Appalachian Trail. Or do any sort of backcountry camping. Memories are weird and can be quite elusive. It was in Montreat, funnily enough, where an activity group was discussing a two to three day backpacking trip. As a ten year old from Iowa who has only known frontcountry camping, I was very curious and had lots of questions. I was excited to possibly go on this trip, despite knowing my parents didn’t have the funds to allow me to go. I was nervous to raise my hand in a group of thirty to forty adults, but I did. One of the leaders called on me and I mustered up my courage and asked, “Where are the bathrooms at on trail?” I had recently gotten my period and didn’t know how to manage that, much less in the woods. Everyone laughed. It was loud and jarring. I didn’t understand why it was so funny – it was an honest question. After the leader finished laughing, she stated, “What? Did you think there was plumbing out there? Who’s next?” I left, as discreetly as a child could with their parent, and left crying. I didn’t realize how much that moment impacted and suppressed my desire to do backcountry. Montreat was the place that I fell in love with the mountainous terrain and where I first heard about the Appalachian Trail. My mind must have made a tie with that moment to the Appalachian Trail. There is so much more I can say on this subject, but I’ll leave it at that.

Moreland Gap Shelter 

By 10:30, I arrived at the Moreland Gap Shelter. I had already done six miles and had another six to go. It had finally stopped raining. There, I met the trail famous Eggz and Bacon. Last I heard, Forest Service rangers were out looking for them. Apparently, they have a love of tagging their names on everything. I’ve seen some of their work on the shelters, but they also tag their names on signs, trees, and rocks. It’s not very LNT friendly. Eggz, who is around the age of twelve, has been the main culprit and her father allows it. I saw that they issued an apology, but they still continue to tag despite saying they’ve stopped.

It was also there that Fine Young Buck asked about the plan for today. Confused, I stated that I was good with the plan he came up with that morning. He then said that Kea has been really cold and that all their stuff was wet. Mine was too, but only because of the wet bomb known as my tent. They wanted to stay at a hostel. I said that they could, but I needed to save on money – especially since I was going to aqua blaze. The last hostel bill was expensive and it kind of freaked me out. I said I would camp out on trail while they stayed in the hostel. Fine Young Buck said that they wouldn’t allow that and offered to pay for my share. Before I knew it, Kea said four hikers were expected and that was that.

Kea, Sweeper, and Fine Young Buck hiked on and I lingered once again. I left shortly after them, but made some phone calls and then listened to music. Two thru-hikers, named Duck and Cyclops, caught up to me and I hiked with them. We mainly talked about the triple crowns and Glacier National Park.

Coon Den Falls

When we got to the junction of Coon Den Falls, I decided to take that route to the hostel instead of continuing on the AT. I wanted to see the waterfall. I hiked 0.8 miles to the falls. The trail started off flat, but then steeply went down. It was on this downhill that it became apparent to me that I had no food in my stomach. I was getting tired. 

Coon Den Falls

I made it to the falls, took a few pictures, and took another spur trail that would lead me to the hostel. It was 0.5 miles to the road. I was aching. Both my knees, Achilles tendons, and feet were hurting. My left shin was acting up again too. I saw the road, and in my aching and tired body, didn’t fully observe the mud patch before me. I slipped and fell all the way down the hill and to the road. I was completely covered in mud. 

Black Bear Lodge

The hike to the hostel was short and the others were just finishing checking in. They looked suprised to see me. They got a shuttle to the hostel from the road and they probably weren’t expecting me for some time. The owner gave me a weird vibe – like I couldn’t be trusted.

First order of business was to dry the tents. I pulled mine out and didn’t put much care into laying it out. I then grabbed my dirty clothes and went to take a shower. It was good. At least until the hot water ran out. That sucked. With my shower cut short, I headed back to the cabin.

I heard there was a shuttle to town, so Fine Young Buck and I walked to the office to get our name on the list. One of the stops was McDonald’s and I was craving something salty and hot. The owner put our names on the list, but was very pushy towards me about holding onto my credit card. I didn’t know what to do, but I could see that the others’ cards were behind the desk. She kind of got snappy at me saying, “This is just what we do.” I walked back to the cabin and grabbed mine. I came into the office saying, “I only use this card. Can I have it to pay for food tonight?” I felt like I was snappy back, but dear god, it’s my card. If she doesn’t trust hikers to pay, have them pay up front. I’d feel more comfortable if she held my driver’s license than my credit card. It is I who doesn’t trust her.

I left feeling suspicious, but shook it off and went to get wifi. I did the usual phone scrolling. There is no satisfaction in doing so. We also did some planning. Tomorrow, we’d go see Laurel Fork Falls, but continue staying at the resort. The day after, we’d shuttle to Boots Off Hostel to aqua blaze. I made the arrangements. We did that until 5:00 came around and we got on the shuttle. Before we could get in, we were given a talk and that three would go in one van and four in the other. It was another thing I felt odd about. At least I had my credit card with me.

Trip to Town

The drive to town took about fifteen minutes. We stopped at Dollar General and I grabbed some snacks and food for tomorrow. We then got to McDonald’s. We saw the Boots Off Hostel shuttle and their people were already out and walking to the store. “Hurry! Go, go, go!” We ripped open the doors and sped walked to the building. We were the first in line. 

I debated on getting two meals since I was so hungry, but decided against it. My hiker hunger is inconsistent. I got a large 10 piece with fries. A drink and an oreo McFlurry. That should be enough. Fine Young Buck, on the other hand got a burger, large fry, 20 nuggets, a large drink, and a large milkshake. He ate it all. And was still hungry. I merely awakened my stomach. I was ravenous. 

Back at the hostel, we went back to being on our phones. Fine Young Buck found another hiker who was also a pastor. They chatted for hours and I left to head to bed. I was tired and wanted to read. So I did. Once the sun set, I was out.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 11

  • Nature Boy : May 13th

    Thank you for the post, Morgan, and the nice photographs!

    • Morgan Schmidt : May 16th

      Thank you, thank you!

  • Yam : May 14th

    OMG. What a great posting. So great, got to read it twice. Now and when I get back from my morning walk/stroll/ what-have-you. Thanks !

    • Morgan Schmidt : May 16th

      You honor me. I’m glad you liked it so much you read it twice!

  • Holly : May 14th

    Bummer about the mud tumble but enjoying your story and people details. Creepy credit card keepers…unheard of. Keep a weekly eye on your account. $ent advice via Venmo, re taping for shins, Achilles, and such. Happy Healthy Trails!

    • Morgan Schmidt : May 16th

      Yeah, it weirded me out. Nothing has happened so far, but it didn’t seem right. And thank you! I really appreciate it!

  • Tricia : May 14th

    Your blog is my favorite of all I’ve read. Thank you for being so consistent and blogging every day. I just binge read everything from your first entry and it’s such a good window into thru hiking the AT. If you feel down and disheartened about blogging, let this be your encouragement! I am invested in your hike and am rooting for you and can’t wait for the next entry!

    • Morgan Schmidt : May 16th

      Thank you so much! Recently, it has been really rough finding the motivation to keep going (you’ll find out why) and you saying this makes me remember that I’m not on my own. I have people with me, even if they aren’t physically there. I appreciate you.

      • Tricia : May 16th

        Yes! We are with you. Dig deep, girl. You got this.

  • tagalong : May 14th

    keep on hiking!! love your blog.

    • Morgan Schmidt : May 16th

      Thank you!


What Do You Think?