Days 26-30: Pizza & Sours with a Dash of Windchill & Sunburn
- If anyone noticed, this post is well overdue. The AT does this funny little thing where it will trick you into picking campsites with no service, drain your phone battery, and rain on you. Long story short, I went about 10 days without service and/or battery. But I’m back!
Hiking from: Uncle Johnny’s Hostel
To: Stealth campsite just past Unaka Mountain’s peak
Total grade: 447.5 ft/mile (+)
Motivation: Stay warm
Favorite part of the day: the view from Beauty Spot
Comments: This day started and stayed chilly. While the actual temperature was moderate (50-60), the wind chill was no joke. Before even starting the day, I was chasing the sunlight while we were getting ready in order to stay a little warmer. By the end of the day, I had taken on and off my jacket numerous times. It felt like my insides were warm from the activity, but no matter what I did, it wouldn’t spread to my extremities. Nothing extreme. Just a strange sensation. We tented at a stealth campsite just past the peak of Unaka Mountain. The peak is covered in beautiful pines making it feel like an enchanted forest. Enchanted…and cold.
Hiking from: Stealth campsite just past Unaka Mountain’s peak
To: Ash Gap Campsite
Total grade: 487.2 ft/mile (+)
Favorite part of the day: Lunch
Comments: This was the day of my first fall on trail. It wasn’t anything crazy, but it was a first! It happened within 10 minutes of hiking and I brushed it off with a laugh and a “what did I even trip on” which is typical for me. The weather was similar to day 26. The strong winds never let up. When I stopped for lunch I even laid down to get out of the way of the wind and soak up the sun a little better. It worked well enough. There were lots of climbs this day and the terrain is definitely getting rockier. I heard that’s a sign of Virginia coming, so no complaints from me.
Hiking from: Ash Gap Campsite
To: Station 19E Hostel
Total grade: 513.6 ft/mile (-)
Motivation: Get down this mountain
Favorite part of the day: Sours at 19E
Comments: This day was challenging but also gorgeous. It was no surprise how many day hikers we ran into this day because the trail was absolutely gorgeous and it was clear skies. This section of trail takes you through the Roan mountains, specifically Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald. The skies were so clear we could see the next bald ahead of us when we were on top of the others. It was also super hot, so I got lots of sunburns to remember this day. Lovely.
We also met a really nice SOBO hiker named Laptop who gave us some advice for the trail and Virginia. It’s nice meeting people ending their journey because they really remind you to appreciate all parts of the experience. Before I talked to Laptop, let’s just say I was in a bit of a mood from all the sun and elevation gain. But after, I was improved.
The end of the day was difficult because there was lots to climb down. Our knees were fried. We finally made it to Station 19E hostel and ordered a few beers. I’m a big sour girl and they had plenty for me to sip on. I also treated myself to Mac and cheese with mozzarella sticks on top. Yum.
Hiking from: Station 19E Hostel
To: Roan Mountain B&B
Miles: 0 (Zero day!)
Total grade: 0
Favorite part of the day: Snacks and Netflix
Comments: Maybe you predicted this zero from the way day 28 sounded, but we woke up pretty sore. We decided to check if there were any rooms available in town for the night so we could zero in Roan. Roan Mountain B&B had room so we stayed in their “Governers Suite” which was so, so nice. I highly recommend this place. It was heaven. We were shuttled to restaurants, resupplied in the evening, and ordered huge personal pizzas. At the grocery store, we resupplied for the next few days and bought ice cream, chips, and other treats for that night. We ended the night absolutely stuffed and watching Netflix. A perfect zero.
Hiking from: US 19 E
To: Stealth site just past Hardcore Cascades
Total grade: 400.6 ft/mile (+)
Motivation: 400-Mile Marker!
Favorite part of the day: 400 miles and Jones Falls
Comments: This day was exciting because it was the 400-mile mark and our first waterfall! The day started with a hot climb through some very green fields. Then we descended to Jones Falls where we had lunch after taking pictures with the 400-mile mark. The second half of the day wasn’t as exciting and had lots of up and downs (literally). We tented at a stealth site and were woken up at 4 AM by thunder and lightning 4-9 miles from us (estimated by the time between light and noise).
Stay tuned for day 31-35! Rainy days ahead…
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