Three days of rain into Franklin NC

    So the rain was pretty bad. I left the hostel around the bend on Tuesday April 9th and it was already raining as we got off the shuttle. Everyone spent some time sizing up their rain gear and seeing what others had before we all started uphill to the border of North Carolina. It was 8 or so miles to the border and I wanted to get there by noon.

    The hike up wasn’t terrible and the rain was light but constant. By the time I reached North Carolina about 4 hours later (at 11:57 AM) everything was soaked through. I was feeling alright till the border but I was light on water and as there was a spring about 200 yards past there I stopped to fill up. After spending some time getting water and celebrating finishing my first state through texts with friends I started hiking again and ran into something unexpected. Your muscles tense up much quicker in cold wet weather. 

    North Carolina greets the thru hiked with two difficult climbs immediately and having stopped for a few minutes every muscle in my legs felt like it was locking up. Those climbs hurt much more than they should have. 

    I continued on till around mile 11 to the next shelter and found it full of hikers trying to get out of the rain for a few minutes. It was a real who’s who of people I had met over the past week. The British adventurer and his Georgian (the state) friend, the former thru hiker I’d started with, and even Dr. Pop tart himself. Everyone was standing around shivering and cooking whatever food they could spare to warm up. 

    I had already pretty much decided I wasn’t going to stay there when I started the day. 11 miles wasn’t quite enough for me after getting off trail for a day. The next shelter was another 5 past there and the weather was expected to clear up in the afternoon so I pushed on. Several miles later it had all but stopped raining but I was still soaked to the bone. I passed a spot called deep gap and met a guy doing trail magic who gave me my first beer of the trail. 

    A British nutritionist named ’Big Bird’ and I had been discussing how much we wanted a beer for the better part of 3 days and a cold bud light hit the spot better than any spot I’ve ever had hit. Big Bird came in maybe 10 minutes after me and we chatted with our new friend before finishing the last mile to the shelter. 

    The rain didn’t pick up till evening and unfortunately I’d set up my tent in what would become a puddle. By about 2 am I realized I was getting wet and by 6 am my whole tent was soaked through. Luckily I’d been able to keep my sleeping bag pretty dry, damp but not soaked. 

    I ended August 8th at 16 miles and change on the day and woke up on the 9th to rain and no option but another 16 mile day. It was either an 11 mile day and avoid a mountain called Albert or 16, climb Albert and cross the 100 mile mark. I decided to hit 16 climb Albert and cross 100 miles. The trail itself wasn’t hard but something about being soaked for 2 days, wet socks, wet shoes, wet clothes, it got to me. About 12 miles in, a friend came up behind me and said he was having a rough day so we hiked together for the last 4 miles.

    When I say up hill I mean probably 2 feet up for every foot forward. This was a heavy climb, very difficult and very taxing through even the light rain that was still coming down. At the top the clouds blocked the view but we crossed the 100 mile mark which felt good. The last 2 miles to camp were brutal. 

    The next day I was shot. My pack was full of water, my ‘dry’ clothes were still wet, my food was slowly rehydrating in my bag. I went into town. I hiked another 4 miles to a place called rock gap where there was a shuttle. Getting on I asked if the driver took venmo but it was cash only and I hadn’t seen an ATM since New Jersey. Luckily some other hiker paid my $5 fee to get into town. 

    The shuttle dropped us at a motel called hilltop where I asked for a room but they were booked up. The motel owner recommended another place about a mile away and they had a vacancy. I checked in and laid in my room for about an hour before going across the street to a Hardee’s and a dollar general. For those unaware North Carolina dollar generals sell beer. Absolute score. 

    After getting back to the hotel I realized a few other friends had been taking a zero there all day. We hung out drinking a few beers then headed to the Mexican food place across the street before going back to the hotel and drinking a few more beers then a few more after those. 

    The next day a 13 mile hung over hike was difficult but fun in its own way. I’m realizing this was all about 2 weeks ago now and may jump forward significantly for the next post.

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