Hiker Has to Wear Disintegrating Shoes

Bama➡️Baxter Day 59&60

Day 59: 6.1 miles

This morning all of us woke up early in the shelter and packed up. It was much warmer this morning than last night which was nice. That always makes it easier to change into my hiking clothes and get out of my sleeping bag.

Once we were packed up we set out to begin the 6.1 miles to Uncle Johnny’s Hostel. All of us were stoked to have nearly a full day of rest and spend the night in town. I know that I certainly am.

The miles flew by as they usually do when we’re heading to town. And once we got closer the views of the river down by town were beautiful. It was a really enjoyable morning of walking. Spirits were high for sure.

Views of the river while descending into Erwin, TN.

By 8:45am we were walking on the road and arriving at the hostel. Just in time for the 9am shuttle into Erwin. We probably would have stayed at the hostel but decided to avoid it because of the noro bubble. Sometimes the hostels can be breeding grounds for noro because of the shared bathroom space. Sense there are 3 of us it’s just as cheap to split a room in town so we decided to do that. Plus the hotel was right by the grocery store, gear shop, and local restaurants. That sounded ideal.

Hikers packed into the Uncle Johnny’s hostel shuttle.

The shuttle was only $5 a head and dropped us off right at a local cafe. Inside there were a bunch of hikers getting coffee and breakfast sandwiches. I got a dirty chai oat milk latte which was exceptional. And for breakfast I got a bagel sandwich with cream cheese, bacon, and tomato. That was phenomenal as well. I was so damn content.

Dirty chai latte and a breakfast sandwich at a cafe in Erwin, TN.

After we ate we walked over to the nearby gear shop. I was hoping for new topos because my shoes are pretty wrecked. There’s nearly 800 miles on them so far and the heels are starting to disintegrate. I have a small hole behind the heel on each foot. Likely due to the fact that I don’t untie my shoe laces. I just shove my foot into my shoe every single day.

The hiker sign in board at the gear shop in Erwin.

Sadly though the shop was pretty scarce and I couldn’t get shoes. Now I really need to get shoes in Demascus 115 miles from here. If I’m able to make it there it’ll be a small miracle.

I was stressing about the shoes so on our walk from the gear shop to the hotel I decided to call a shop in Demascus. And I’m so glad that I did. They only had 3 pairs of topos in my size so I bought and paid for a pair over the phone to be held until I arrive. I can’t risk getting into town and not being able to get shoes. That’ll be 900+ miles on the one pair by then. I’ve had them for the entire Bama➡️Baxter hike so far.

I was thrilled about the purchase and feeling really accomplished. On trail you really retrain your brain. The tasks and chores you have to do periodically in town are really the only work that you do besides hiking. But they are so incredibly important, arguably more so than smaller tasks in regular day to day life. Foot wear is quite possibly the most important piece of gear that you have out here.

The massive holes in the heal of my topo shoes.

Before stopping off at the hotel we went over to a burger place called Pals. It had a big statue of a hot dog on the side of a building. There was no indoor dining so the three of us had to walk through the drive through which was hilarious. We had so much fun walking from the first window and then around to the pick up window. Then we sat out in the grass out front to eat. Quite the site to see.

Pals burger joint in Erwin.

Spring Break ordering at the drive through window at Pals.

After eating we walked over the hotel and were able to check in early before even 11am. That was so awesome. All of us got our laundry together and then began the shower rotation. It felt so good to get clean and wash my hair. Then we started laundry, began charging our devices, and all made some phone calls before heading to the grocery store to resupply.

I talked to my dad on the phone for a while and then my mom. It was so great to get caught up with them. I haven’t had much service for the last couple of hundred miles so I haven’t been making any phone calls. I’ve just been using wifi to send text messages when I’m in town.

After that all of us set out to the grocery store to resupply for the next stretch to Roan Mountain. I got tons of delicious stuff. Lately I’ve been getting an absurd amount of chips. Then on the walk back we stopped at Bojangles for more food. We’re relentless. I got a fried chicken plate with sides. I was craving friend chicken on the bone. And after that we headed back to the hotel to chill for the rest of the day.

I got my food bag situated and backpack packed as much as I could. Then I laid in bed and did some writing and blogging for a while. We all spent the rest of the night just doing our own thing at the room.

Around 7pm we were hungry once again and went for round 2 at Pals. I got a chilli burger, chilli dog, and a chocolate shake. We even went to Dunkin Donuts after that because Spring Break wanted some. Back at the room we all ate and lounged. Then Mud Bag, Snuggie, and Fire Fly came by the room later on and asked if we wanted to sit out and smoke. So we joined them out back in the smoking area and hung out there talking and smoking for a while. It was a great time with everyone just shooting the shit and laughing.

Eating at Pals once again.

Eventually we headed back to the room to call it a night. While I was on my phone I wound up messaging a hiker who I met on the PCT named Beer Run. He’s traveling around in the van that he converted himself which is super cool. Turns out he’s in the area and was planning to do trail magic between Erwin and Demascus. So he offered to drive us back to the trailhead tomorrow morning! That was awesome news because otherwise we couldn’t get a ride back with the shuttle until 9am. And we’re trying to do a full day of walking tomorrow. Plus I haven’t seen him in ages and I was stoked for a PCT reunion! I got a bit more writing done on my phone after that and then headed to bed.

Day 60: 21.5 miles

This morning we all got up pretty early in the hotel room and packed our things. Then we walked over to McDonalds for breakfast. Once we got back we got our things together and Beer Run was already parked out front. It was super cool to take a look inside his van. I’ve been watching him convert it on Instagram over the past few months since the PCT. It was so cool to see him and get caught up. What an incredibly coincidence that’s he’s in the area the same time as me. The hiking world is truly such a small world. It’s been really neat reconnecting with so many friends along the trail so far.

Beer Run dropping us off at the trailhead in his conversion van.

He dropped us off at Uncle Johnny’s and we got back to walking from there. There was a long climb coming up from the road but we pushed on for about 4 or so miles before stopping. Then we took our first break of the day at a shelter. A few hikers were still breaking down camp from last night and one of them was Smoke Master who we’ve met a few times. He’s carrying a tea kettle the whole way and calling it his “ka-tettle” because he’s taking it all the way to Mount Katahdin. 

Views from the bridge as we crossed the river in Erwin.

After resting there for a bit we continued on and had a bit more uphill. The weather was wonderful even though it had previously been forecast for rain. We walked for a few more miles before coming to road crossing. When we arrived a man set up doing trail magic. He apparently sets up 5 days a week for hikers which is unbelievably kind. What a legend. You had your choice between a hot and cold beverage and I chose an arnold Palmer which was delicious. He also had different types of bread to choose from and I had a piece of moist pumpkin bread. It was quite the amazing surprise for sure.

An AT symbol carved into a log alongside the trail.

A few more hikers showed up and we all congregated there for a while. And Kent who we just met a couple days ago showed up too! He’s supporting his wife Patty and gave us trail magic just the other day. It was cool to see him again.

Views from the top of one of our many climbs of the day.

After staying at the trail magic for nearly an hour we decided to continue on. From there we had a couple long climbs on and off but were rewarded with fantastic views. The trail crossed a few more roads as the day went on and Kent wound up driving by us a couple of times which was really funny. After a handful more miles we stopped along side another road at a camping area for a break. While we were there Kent drove by once again! He parked nearby and came by to chat with us. And he even offered us all a cold drink which was fantastic. We had our choice once again between soda, beer, and Gatorade. I had an ice cold coke which hit the spot.

A trail magic coke courtesy of Kent!

We continued along after that and had another long climb. Then the trail became more gradual and we were able to cruise along for a bit. Over the course of the day we leap frogged on and off with two other hikers, Black Beard, and Gio. Gio is hiking with his husky Roxy and she’s just the cutest little thing. She seems like such a good dog and hiking companion. We caught up with them again at a nearby shelter and took our last break to the day there.

There was a trail family set up in the shelter and I had met most of the hikers already at the cafe in Erwin. Everybody was really nice and it seemed like a great group. It was around 5:30pm so most people were cooking dinner and lounging for the night. But the three of us just ate a snack and then decided to push on a few more miles. Gio and Roxy planned to do the same thing as well. There was still loads of daylight left for hiking.

After a few more miles we were approaching yet another road and then saw Kent walking South along the trail. He likes to walk out and meet Patty on the trail which is so sweet of him. At the road we decided to take one last break before continuing on for another mile or so. When Kent and Patty got back to their van which was parked nearby us Kent hollered over to us, “The stores open!”. Meaning they were gonna open the van and offer us some food and drinks. It’s so ridiculously nice of them to  continuously offer us treats even though we’ve already seen them multiple times today. They are both super nice people.

I had yet another coke even though it was past 6pm. It was a risk I was willing to take. At the end of a 20 mile day I’m usually sleeping pretty well no matter what.

Our second time of the day getting trail magic from Kent. Having myself a 6pm coke.

After spending a bit of time there we decided to press on to a camp site. Apparently there was a site with water just a mile or so a head which sounded ideal. Black Beard, Gio, and Roxy were all heading there too which was awesome.

Gio and Roxy getting trail magic from Kent’s mini van “store”.

When we arrived at camp there were 4 other hikers that we’ve been leapfrogging with recently as well, Eric, Matt, Smoke, and Holy Shit. It’s been such an awesome feeling recently to be hiking within a bubble of hikers that I actually know. The first couple of weeks on the AT we just wound up passing through a bunch of different bubbles of hikers who were doing slightly shorter mileage. But now that we’re a bit further along a lot more people are doing 15-20 mile days. So we actually have a consistent group of people that we’ve been seeing. I’ve been loving it.

It was around 7pm so I was eager to be laying in my sleeping bag and calling it a night. I ate quick and then got situated for bed. Every night I do a stretching and exercise routine for my IT bands so I did that like always. Then I rolled over and called it a night.

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Comments 3

  • Dirty south : May 3rd

    Extremely boring,couldn’t read it all

  • Charlotte : May 4th

    I love your posts! As someone who is going to embark on the AT 4/24 and is 48 years older than you, following your journey including your enthusiasm for life overall, is magical for me. And your PCT prior experience is incredible too! Thank you for sharing yourself! What is a dirty chai latte?

  • Kevin Dempsey : May 5th

    Thanks for sharing your hiking story. Hiking is like boating it’s work and play happening in one woven thread.


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