Surprise!

This week was really exciting. My boyfriend, James, came up for a few days and I took him on his very first backpacking trip! I also got to surprise my family and come home for a few days. Although the few days off gave me a chance to rest up and plan the next leg of my trip, I was already itching to get back on the trail as soon as I got home. I will be rejoining thru hiker culture on Thursday though!

Day 27: I took a full zero in Hot Springs, NC. This town is really cool because the AT literally follows the Main Street of the small town. A group of trail friends and myself stayed at Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn which was an old Victorian house owned by a man named Elmer. It featured a gorgeous wrap around porch and all the classic things found in a Victorian home. We all spent the day doing some much needed laundry, and eating a meal of long awaited “town food” (burgers, fries, steak, beer, etc). James made a 600 mile drive from PA – Hot Springs so that he could tackle a section of the trail with me. After giving him a pack shakedown, we got to bed early to rest up for James’ first time backpacking.

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The trail markers in Hot Springs, NC


Day 28: We set out early (after getting a huge breakfast at the local diner, of course) and started the climb out of Hot Springs. We decided we wanted to stay at a shelter that night, so this means that on his first day of the trip James had to pull an 11 mile day with some pretty tough climbs. In fact, all throughout the day many of the people who also started in Georgia with me were shocked that he was doing such tough climbs on his first backpacking trip. We took our time and took lots of breaks so that James could get used to carrying the weight on his pack and using his trekking poles. Unfortunately, there was a huge wild fire in the forest surrounding Hot Springs earlier this year. Because of those, much of our day was spent hiking through burned out forests. Although sad to walk through, it was amazing to see all the new growth that has sprung up in such a short amount of time. There were tons of little green plants that show hope of the forest being able to recover. After trekking through what seemed like endless miles of burned out trees, we made it to the Spring Mountain Shelter. We lucked out and got a really nice campsite, and spent the night hanging out with some hiker friends.

Day 29: Since we had James pull a pretty big day for his first time backpacking yesterday, we decided to go light today. We hiked a very chill 8.6 miles and spent a lot of time just hanging out. We slowly made our way over mountains and eventually to the shelter. James found out the hard way that there is a huge difference between backpacking and hiking – everything changes when you are carrying all of your supplies on your back. Your feet fit differently in your shoes, your center of gravity is off, your knees are more sensitive to steep climbs and descents, and the climbing is harder because you now you are carrying around 30 pounds on your back all day long. All in all I think he grew to really like it by the end of the trip, which is good news because now I can drag him on even more backpacking trips in the future!

The best way to wake up

Day 30: James starts his new job next week, and the company suddenly called him saying that they needed a lot of things done before his start day on Monday. Because of this, we decided to cut his visit a little short. Before heading home, we grabbed a shuttle back to Hot Springs so that we could pick up his car, and drive back to Max Patch to spend the night there. When I visited Max Patch about a week before, I saw it late in the morning. Because of this, I decided to press on the the shelter and not camp on the bald mountain. I actually turned out to regret this mistake since you can not only see sunrise and sunset right there from your tent, but you have an awesome view of the stars since there is no obstruction from trees. We pitched our tent purposely so that we could view sunrise right outside the door, and spent the evening looking at the mountains, and then eventually, gazing at the stars. Camping on Max Patch has easily been one of the greatest parts of the whole trip, and I am so happy that I made the decision to go back – the whole night felt like a movie with how perfect our campsite and the views were. With a lot of the views you see on the AT, you know when looking at them that there is a good chance that you will never be at that location again. It’s part of that makes the experience really cool, however I am really happy that I chose to go back to this place. If you are ever in the Hot Springs area, GO VISIT MAX PATCH AT SUNSET/ SUNRISE.

Day 31: I was originally scheduled to come home on Tuesday evening for my sisters graduation. However, since James had to get all of his things done for work, I chose to surprise my family and come home with him on Thursday. We made the 12 hour drive from Hot Springs – PA and arrived home around 9pm. I was so excited to see my family (especially my dog) after a month of hiking. I looked and smelled like I haven’t bathed in a few days (because there are unfortunately no showers in the woods) but they still gave me big hugs despite the smell.

Days 32-37: I spent a lot of time with my family celebrating my sister Kristina’s graduation, and my other sister Melissa’s birthday. I also got to catch up with a lot of friends, and reorganize myself for the rest of my hike.

I will be returning to the trail on Thursday, however make sure you check back sometime next week for some big news regarding my hike!

Total miles hiked: 292.1
Miles to go: 1897.4

Happy hiking!

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Wild donkeys


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Stars at Max Patch

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Comments 5

  • Jay Z II : Jun 15th

    Lovely pictures & well written.

    Reply
  • Ina : Jun 15th

    Nona, I’m happy to see you are Hot Springs ! Wish we, (RC Angel & Pac-N-Lite), could be there too !’ Keep it Coming!

    Reply
  • Bridget : Jun 15th

    Love the pictures!

    Reply
  • TBR : Jun 15th

    Hard to get a photo of stars … they must have been really shining on your night on Max Patch.

    Reply
  • Gail : Jun 18th

    Beautiful pictures!

    Reply

Leave a Reply to TBR Cancel reply