The Full Gambit
I’m sitting on a little log by a tiny stream eating my lunch- a tuna and cheeto burrito. The high for today is supposed to be 85° but I haven’t seen a thermometer in about a month. I have been on the trail for one month and one day. I have traveled over 280 miles on foot. So far I’ve hiked in rain, wind sleet, snow and beautiful sunshine. The full gambit
It arrived around 2 pm so we decided we would Nero to the Borch Springs Campsite, about 6 miles away. After horror stories of crowded, Noro infested shelters, I was a little nervous about getting there later in the day. I hike pretty slow.
But when we got to the campsite, there was only one other hiker there. Everyone else had pushed to Mollies Ridge Shelter. It was a beautiful night, and the campsite is off the ridge enough that we weren’t smacked with wind until the next morning.
ANd there is was. The wind. Incessant, freezing cold, and more than mildly irritating. We decided to pull big miles and push to Derricks Knob Shelter in hopes of getting to Gatlinberg a day early. There was snow in the forcast. We went 17.5 miles, our longest day yet. It was very cold, and very windy all day long. And honestly I was a bit disappointed. After all the hype the smokies just seemed to be a colder version of what we had already been doing. But with feces everywhere (people, can we PLEASE bury the poop)
There were some cool vistas but it was always to cold to enjoy them. The last 6 miles of that day also just so happened to be some of the hardest terrain we encountered so far. I woke up the next day and my left foot was killing me. I was determined to make it into town though. We ended up getting to Clingman’s dome and hitching a ride into Gatlinberg. Aka my least favorite trail town so far. At least they had mellow mushroom.
We ended up double zeroing and spending way too much money in Gatlinerg because it didn’t stop snowing. Once we finally got out though, the trail was covered in ice. But it was an evergreen forest instead of dead hardwoods and it was honestly, really really beautiful.
We hiked on after a breif stop for beer and pizza at standing bear farm, crossed over Max Patch (my favorite place on the trail! So pretty!) and eventually made it down into Hot Springs (my favorite trail town so far!)
we zeroed there and now we are on the trail again, hoping to make it to Erwin in the next few days where we will get off the trail for a day or two to visit with one of my best friends from home.
I am starting to feel like a thru hiker. Some days more than others. But I feel strong and confident and buoyant. All the flowers are coming out, and last night I saw the most beautiful sunset of my life. Hard to ask for more than that.
Anyway, blogging from a phone in the woods is hard, sometimes it’s harder than hiking. But I am loving this life, mostly even when it sucks.
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