Days 4-8 Trail, Mail, Tales
Day 4: Blood Mtn and Mtn Crossings
The climb up Blood Mountain was not as bad as I expected. I heard the same from many other hikers. Maybe it was the good weather or just the conditioning from the previous days’ climbs. The views were amazing and the dissent was long but rewarding to arrive at the infamous Mountain Crossings. I picked up my first resupply box and bought a water bottle sleeve that I later realized did not work with my backpack. A Snickers and a burrito felt like a luxury.
It was fun unpacking the box we had mailed before I even left for the trail and some satisfaction that I didn’t have anything I wanted to send back home. I spent a week dehydrating and vacuum-sealing my meals so I would be all set for the first 30 days. Good nutrition was paying off so far.
The best part by far was seeing and conversing with all the other thru-hikers, many of whom I will continue to see over the next few days. I made it to Baggs Creek tent site at mile 35.5. At first, I was a little nervous that I would be camping alone for the first time but soon enough fellow hikers joined and we even had a little campfire. It was so great to hear everyone’s stories on how they came to be on the trail and how many connections we already had with other hikers.
Day 5: Toe Woe
I woke up to a bubble toe. This is not a term I knew at the time but after some internet research, I discovered this is not an uncommon problem for thru-hikers, where the top of your little toes blister and your nail comes loose. I’m embarrassed to admit I was almost prideful in my toe injury as I pulled out my well-stocked first aid kit. I mean it was just a little blister and I had everything I needed to take care of it, and it is practically a rite of passage, right?
I was super happy to get my first experience of trail magic at Hogpen gap from Stargazer. She had all the goodies, seriously it was like a little traveling outfitter! I limited my take to a burrito, a moon pie, and my lucky day – extra blister tape! Nice hang time too and I shared my sunscreen with a grateful fellow pale hiker. Morale booster for sure but the reality was that my feet were definitely slowing me down, especially on the steep descents. It was my shortest mile day, only going to 44.7 at Poplar campsite, where I was surprised to be all alone for the night. I should mention I had my first real hiking partner for a few hours. Betsy from Rhode Island and we discovered some Steamboat connections!
Day 6: Oh No! More Toes
Warning…picture below may gross you out. I now had two toes on each foot that were pretty bad and even my pinkies were a little blistered. Still convinced that a little first aid and a lot of determination was somehow going to solve the problem I bandage them up and chugged on. I met up with Betsy again, which was great for so many reasons, and it really does make the miles easier. Once I was hiking I almost forgot about my toes, but the final stretch to Tray Mountain Shelter at mile 58.2 was a good reminder. I was motivated to get the miles in so the next day would be a little less to Dick’s Creek Gap. Here I would be going to my first hostel stay and into the town of Hiawassee where I planned on picking up the recommended Injinji sock liners.
Day 7: Around the Bend Hostel
Best choice! I was so happy to be reunited at the hostel with so many of the AT homies I have met over the last week. The bunk room was perfect for my needs. Gordon and Lisa really have it all dialed in for hikers. I grabbed some great loaner clothes, put my clothes in the laundry, and took one of the most needed showers I have ever had. Gordon shuttled a van full of us to town, where I got my sock liners and an upgrade to a CNOC water bladder to complement my Sawyer Squeeze filter. Then a nice dinner and a beer at the brewery and even Friday night music. Most everyone got resupply at the grocery store but my box was shipped to the hostel so I was all set.
It is crazy how busy you are on this type of adventure. I was already wishing I had planned a second night as it was a tight schedule trying to fit in phone calls and posts during your short time with Wi-Fi.
Day 8: MamaP Gets New Shoes
I set out back on trail thinking sock liners and first aid was going to magically fix the obvious problem of my shoes being too tight for my now swollen Hobbit feet. 1.5 miles. That is how far I hiked before finally admitting defeat. As I turned back to head to town to buy new shoes I was literally hobbling down the trail. An hour and a half later, I was back on trail sporting the AT favorite Altra Lone Peaks…a half size bigger than my normal size. Also, more trail magic with a ride back to the trail from Walker and Crystal, he starts his thru-hike soon.
Toes are still healing but new shoes made all the difference. I’m trying to be kind to myself by focusing on my grit and determination, not my stubborn stupidity for waiting so long to take care of the problem. Fun group at Plum Orchard shelter (mile 73.8) that night made it all worth the extra miles.
I haven’t talked a lot about the details of the trail, but it is no joke- it is mostly up and down and up again with a few stretches of rolling. A lot of rocks and roots! The landscape changes often from stark, lifeless woods to lush moss-covered trees with a multitude of streams and creeks. Both are beautiful.
The shelters have been busy but not crowded. I have chosen to tent every time and not had a problem finding a spot.
There has been a lot of talk about someone on the trail who was harassing single female hikers. It sounds like it’s been dealt with and the trail community has rallied around hikers like me, and I feel as safe as I did on day one.
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I don’t know where to start….I’m still hobbling around with my pinched nerve in my right lower back so I can sympathize with the discomfort with your toes(it sucks to experience any debilitating injury). Glad you’ve found the much needed shoes & socks! We’re so glad it’s been such a rewarding experience so far. We’re so proud of you, as we have been always! Love & Kisses. M & D
P.S. Sounds like you’ll be busy when this is all over, keeping in touch with all the new contacts you’ve made
Stay healthy& safe!
I LOVE the Altra shoes. I have wide feet, and they are SO comfortable. Good luck with the new kicks!
What a trooper! Beat downs not beating MamaP down. Still standing tough and strong. I’m so proud of you babe. Keep on trekkin’.
Blog is awesome.
Hey Steamboat! I’m glad you got new shoes, those toes were a worrying sight. Hope you’re staying warm tonight!