Day 5 – Early Franklin Resupply Bugaloo
I have forgotten how to count because I fell behind on writing and my brain is full of dryer lint. So please enjoy this stream of consciousness. Think of it as a throwback to AP literature.
Today was a rough day but filled with trail magic. Lot’s of easter food handed out! I thought I was going to die on trail from the amount of food that was being stuffed into me and due to the lack of breaks I am not taking or eating enough. I know… The trail magic should fix it, but I don’t feel hungry. The miles are starting to catch up with me and I begin to feel really rough. I know part of why I am pushing so hard is to keep up with people. I know that I don’t need to keep up with them, but I have this nagging thought that I have to keep up with people because they will judge me or… You know….whatever.
It’s not like I desperately need the company. I am quite content listening to, Old Gods of Appalachia,( honestly go listen to them…Do it. DO IT NOW!!!) and existing in my own little world. I just have this need to perform at or above. It’s exhausting and a habit I am learning to break. While I originally thought I was going to be fine but learning to “hike your hike” is incredibly hard when you come from an academic background that judge every single aspect of your performance.
I know you can have imposter syndrome. Like just in general. But really! Imposter syndrome followed me onto the trail…
The place I have fled to, to work on myself and my mental health. I know mental health just doesn’t magically get better when you touch some grass. I knew some of the demons from the passing of my father and my craptastic academic experience would follow me here outside. But those demons have put their claws into me. Especially while I am vulnerable or tired.
In these past two days I have walked about 22 miles and crossed the 50 mile marker. I am so proud of this big accomplishment and of the other little victories, like not getting hit by a car crossing major roads on the gaps, booking a hostel, deciding to listen to my body a little more each day.
Today was hard. The blister on the back of my foot was screaming with every other step. My right was hurting on the down hill and so was my left. I felt behind, slow, and miserable. I wasn’t enjoying myself. I had to hike 12.5 miles to be on target for my plan, so I could spend most of the next day at a hostel. I knew I bit off more than I could chew, but I had to push… You know for *extra* hostel time.
There were a lot of ups and big downs. My knee and blister were screaming with every step. It was a super sunny and warm day and I was drenched in sweat. I had my biggest elevation climb today up Kelly Knob and Powell Mountain. It was a long 9.5 hours of hiking. I was too much in my head to take in the scenery and really enjoy the day.
I felt so tired and so frustrated, that today was the first day I cried. Not big crocodile tears of pain or frustration. I felt guilty for being in the woods, like I had run away from the “real world”. I missed my family and my pets at home. I missed my dad and I felt guilty for being alive while my dad is dead.
Imposter syndrome and feeling guilty about existing….. Not the monsters I thought I would encounter in the woods…
I made it to camp, not the last hiker to drag myself in, but definitely one of the last. I was exhausted and done. It was so hard for me to look for the little things today. Just every detail felt hard today. I look forward to the hostel tomorrow and taking time away from the trail.
It appears my namesake is changing. While my luck hasn’t necessarily been the best, it appears the fortune of those around me improves.
Example: Before the Kelly Knob climb I had to grab water on a 1 mile blue blaze to grab water because I don’t particularly like dehydrating myself more than necessary. So, I trudged the extra 1 mile to get water, take the 10 minutes to filter, watch 3 people pass me, and then begin trudging. As I began my trudge, I noticed I was passing people and as I chatted with them, they were out of water. Since I grabbed too much water, I gave them enough to get them to the summit. I did this a couple times without thinking about it and crawled my way to camp. Come to find out later that night, I was one of the reasons they made it to the shelter. My little act of kindness changed their luck.
While I may not be incredibly Lucky, I am changing the Luck of so many around me… And I think that is pretty neat…
Even if my 12.5 mile hike became a 13.5 mile hike
I took a nero today and hiked 3.5 miles to Hostel Around the Bend near Hiawassee. The hostel was amazing and the staff was so kind and so helpful. This hostel had everything a hiker could need and is such a warm and welcoming place. Learning Curve, gave me a shake down helping me to lighten my pack by 5lbs and helped me with blister management. Learning Curve, I am forever in your debt!
It was a welcomed break from the trail, I feel physically rested and at ease mentally. I think I needed to break the cycle of “needing to catch up” and take care of myself. I think I needed the break from it all. I am excited to return to trail. I feel better prepared to tackle the next challenges on trail.
I mostly spent my day at the hostel and went into town to get food and grab some stuff for my resupply. It was nice meeting the lovely characters of the other thru hikers. I did however make a new best friend. Allagash, “Madame”, and her parents Jen andd Phil, who were lovely company.
Overall, I feel ready to get back to trail. It looks like I will be solo hiking until I meet up with another group.
Today was better. So much better. Even with projected rainstorms, life felt better. Shit! I felt improved. The lighter pack let me go farther than I had originally planned, 11.5 miles instead of the 8.9 miles. I didn’t crush the miles, more like crawled my way kicking and screaming as I crossed the border from Georgia to North Carolina. Although, I am in a improved condition, my blister is….unamused…
I thought that I would be welcomed by lovely views and gentle climbs in North Carolina, leaving the heinous climbs of Georgia…. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as I crossed the state line, I was greeted with a insane climb up Short Top and Courthouse Bald. I thought Georgia was bad…. In comparison, these were absolutely evil.
In the end, I survived the trudge up the hills and I made it 3 extra miles more than I planned for the day. Now, I lie in wait in my tent for the rain, which I placed in the lowest and flattest point of the the campsite. You know… To really test my luck…
Good news! I didnt wake up swimming in my tent, but the weather has been terrible. Cold, wet, and rainy. A bunch of us hikers decided to stay in the shelter for the day and stay dry rather than push. It has been novel staying in the shelter and doing nothing for the day. Making friends, playing cards, and bonding out of the fear of bears and lightning strikes.
Hanging around these fellow hikers has made me realize how lonely it has been hiking by myself most of these (almost) 100 miles. I dont mind hiking by myself but it has been lonely and difficult. I love having these lovely characters around at camp and being involved in their highjinks. I think I shall call it ‘Shitty Weather Shelter Madness’. We all don’t know what to do, our bodies have no clue what is going on, and we are all bored as hell.
So the blister on the back of my ankle is now a large crater on the back of my ankle that hurts with every step. (I can hear you gross people who want pictures, but I am not doing that out of consideration for your fragile sensibilities and I would have to charge.) It has been hurting since about day three. I need a new set of shoes. I am currently wearing the Brooks Cascadia 16, my previous pair were fine, they worked perfectly for my hikes and have survived multiple trips. This new new pair must misformed or something because my left foot has 1 hole that was a blister on the Achilles tendon and 2 other blisters. Now, I think I need to hike into town and take my zero/nero early. Although I am surrounded by wonderful people, I sit here in pain and worrying if it is going to be worse tomorrow or get infected and take me off trail. It has been so hard to push through the pain, every step or every day. So instead of pushing forward for 20 miles and following my plan, I am going to hike back the one mile to catch a shuttle into Franklin NC. I need new shoes and my body needs a rest. I got to take care of myself first.
So… I didn’t die from my foot falling off, but that was the worst mile I have ever hiked. Good thing I am going into town and not pushing 20 miles. Prot tip, don’t be stupid! Listen to your body, it knows what’s up!
I also made it into Franklin. I technically did a nero, but that is a very generous title. I backtracked the mile, caught a shuttle with availability, and went into town. So, more like n(z)ero.
I GOT NEW SHOES! Outdoor 76 was super helpful and switched me from the ladies Brooks Cascadia to the Mens. Things now feel a lot better. My ankle is still tender and things are still a little ouchy, but at least the shoe is not actively making a hole in my foot. I hope the custom orthotics I ordered still works out as they are ground to the womens shoes, but at this point I think they might be placebo or a comfort item. Please foot people and orthotic humans, correct me if I am wrong.
I GOT BEER! In fact, I got 2 beers! I didn’t factor in how not drinking for a hot minute plus being dehydrated and living in the woods would impact my tolerance. I now can’t feel my blister… Or most of my body… Massive improvement of my condition.
I also want to give a huge shout out to the Franklin chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina NOC AT Club for helping me track down my resupply box that got sent to a hostel that is shut down for the season. They went out of their way to help me out and make sure that my box gets back home so I can receive it in the future. Franklin, you rock! Keep being awesome to hikers!
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Hang in there, you can do eet!
I think custom orthotics are for a lot more than comfort. they are a great thing.
Great to read. It’s actually more information than video on YouTube. Are you on YouTube?. Your Uncle Mike of Massachusetts referred me to you. Keep on hiking. ?
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