Everything I Own is a Tissue
Days 24, 25: Zeros!
I was ready for a few days off trail. I was really struggling with Achilles tendinitis in both ankles to the point that almost every step hurt. I had ordered some new shoes but wasn’t going to be able to get them for another week. I decided to take advantage of the days off and go ahead and find some different new shoes to try out to see if it would help.
We were staying with some of Erik’s family. They gave us a ride to a few stores around town and I finally found some trail runners that would work. Not the ones I necessarily wanted, but I was desperate to try something. When we got back on the trail a few days later I was glad I had changed shoes. It would take a little while to completely heal, but the pain was getting better and not worse.
We took advantage of the days off and ate all of the food. I’m still trying to find the right combination of food that keeps me full but doesn’t weigh down my pack. I don’t know if that’s even possible, but I do know every time I’m in town I want to eat everything I see. Dominos pizza and breakfast foods are group favorites!
Day 26: 5,240 ft ascent, 13.8 miles
Back on the trail! We knew we were in for some climbing. Every time you cross a river (the Pigeon this time) you know what’s coming on the other side. The bigger the river, the bigger the climb. We kept moving all day and camped a mile from the summit of Max Patch Mountain. This day was the first day that felt ‘normal’. There was really nothing that happened that stood out and we all felt strong climbing. Our trail legs seemed to be getting us places!
I finally gave up on trying to control my runny nose that seems to have an unlimited snot supply at all times. Every sleeve I have has now been designated as a tissue. I’m hoping this dies down after it gets warmer, but until then drastic times call for drastic measures.
Day 27: 3,390 ft ascent, 17.9 miles
Erik and I woke up early with the plan to watch the sunrise at Max Patch. You currently can’t camp there because of overcrowding in years past, but the trail goes right over the summit of this amazing bald.
As we climbed to the summit the temperature dropped. It was the coldest I had felt on the trip! We stopped and I made some coffee, but my hands were quickly frozen and Erik was running to stay warm. Frost was forming on my pack as it sat there and I was worried my water filter was freezing. We quickly snapped a few pictures and got ourselves down off of the mountain.A few hours later we came up to a gap and some trail magic: The Flying Fritter! We sat down and this guy made us some fresh made from scratch apples fritters that were about the best dessert I had ever eaten. He is trying to open up a restaurant for fritters and hamburgers in the area. I will be returning for another fritter or five in the future when that restaurant opens!
Day 28: 2,400 ft ascent, 9.8 miles
After a big mileage day the day before, I was exhausted and wanted to sleep in. My dad got up and moving early. Erik and I took our time and made our way into Hot Springs, our first town the trail goes through! We stopped for a late breakfast/ early lunch at the Smokey Mountain Diner. Give me bacon and I am happy.
As we left town, we crossed and then walked along the French Broad River. As we hiked there were some guided rafting groups that went by. The guides kept pointing at us and we realized we were a point of interest they were telling the rafters about! It was odd feeling like an attraction when all we’re doing is walking.
Day 29: 3,180 ft ascent, 10.5 miles
I use an app called Far Out to know what features are coming up ahead. I saw “Log Cabin Road” in the app with some comments about not disturbing the log cabin. The app has crowd-sourced comments as well, and as I read through those I found out there’s a sign to go to the house for fresh cookies!
I was looking forward to the cookies all day, and sure enough the Southern Cookie Lady had a box of peanut butter cookies and filtered water on her porch! She came out and chatted with us and told us she has made over 1,000 cookies this season! She told us this will probably be the busiest she’ll ever be making cookies because in May the trail will be rerouted around her property and it will no longer be a 100-yard detour to her front porch from the trail. The trail is always changing!
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