Getting back on trail after a week of zeros

Day 39: (May 22nd)

All the chores we had neglected were waiting for us when we woke up that morning. We did it laundry and a resupply, and finally drove to return the car. The rental car agency was nice enough to drive us all the way back to Standing Bear, so we didn’t have to hitchhike which was great.
We arrived back at the trail and reluctantly hiked up the trail. It was definitely a hard climb after our week off. Not to mention, it was also super humid and sunny. We took a long “KitKat” at the nearest water source and then kept hiking. It was only 7 miles to Groundhog Creek shelter, so we got there in no time.
We all were pretty exhausted from getting back on trail, so we all called it a night pretty early.

Day 40: (May 23rd)

The plan for the day was to go 13 miles to Walnut Mountain shelter. However, when we woke up, it was raining, and we were still feeling the pain of returning to the trail after so long off trail. Harambe decided to move on while KitKat, Itchy, and I decided to take a zero day to recuperate and rest.
I spent the whole day watching Netflix in my tent and napping. It was one of the few zeros where we didn’t have to run any errands or do anything all day. It was definitely a treat, and we all needed it.
That night, we planned to hike for 12 hours and make it as far as we possibly could. Once the 12 hours was up, we would stop wherever we were and set up camp. Hopefully this way we could catch back up to Harambe.

Day 41: (May 24th)

We had planned to wake up at 6 to get in a full 12 hours of hiking, but that didn’t happen. When 6 o’ clock rolled around, we all hit snooze on our alarms and slept in for another hour or two. It was definitely a slow morning, but we finally rolled out around 8:30.
I got to Max patch relatively early, and I was the first of the group. I decided to take a long break up on the top of the mountain to wait for the rest of the crew. Unfortunately, when I got there, the clouds were blocking any sort of view. A short time later, Itchy came rolling up the mountain, and he brought with him the smallest bit of sun. We were able to see much more, but it still was not the amazing views that we were expecting. We didn’t want to push our luck and wait any longer on top of the mountain since there was definitely a storm coming, so we kept hiking until we hit the next shelter.
I ate a small snack, and hurried out of the shelter so I could possibly get to Walnut Mountain shelter before the thunderstorm that was definitely brewing. I started hiking, and just minutes after I left, the downpour started. I was hiking up the mountain as the lightning started, but luckily I wasn’t to the top yet. Water was dumping from the sky, and then out of nowhere, it stopped. I was about 10 minutes from the Bald when the sun came out. I got to walk across the grassy top of the mountain and see some beautiful views before hitting the shelter. I hung out there and heard that the rain was supposed to continue in just a couple of hours. Because of this, I ate my snacks quickly and then continued on.
There were just two more mountains to climb over before the shelter that I wanted to hit. I climbed over them in no time and started the decent into Hot Springs, NC. It was starting to get dark out when I hit 20 miles. I kept telling myself that it was only an hour and a half more of hiking.
It was the longest 3 miles yet. I finally stumbled into the Deer Park Mountain shelter at 7:30. I was so tired that I contemplated not even blowing up my sleeping pad. It was my longest day yet: 23 miles. My feet were killing me, and everything hurt. I went to bed that night and sept like a rock.

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