Trail Update 2
The 100 miles marker day has to go down as one of my favorites so far. If someone were to ask me for a recommendation for a place to hike I would say Standing Indian shelter in North Carolina to the climb of Albert Mountain to the 100 mile marker. Even though the last mile of that day was very painful and hard on my feet, I loved all 16 miles of the trail that day and hiking it with Farasi (Kaelyn/K).
So much has happened since that day. I was not doing so well at blogging because I felt like I could only share if I had something new, profound or educational to share. I have been encouraged though to just blog my updates and not worry about the reviews. So here it goes: another 100 miles.
We hiked into the NOC and a sweet friend had saved us a bunk room so we’d have some shelter from the incoming storm. Well, the rumored storm never happened but a party did because at this point we had been hiking with a familiar bubble of people who all landed in the gap that day. I enjoyed this group. And Mayor was an angel and gave our room the bunks as trail magic (he has a book – Lost on the Appalachian Trail – and he won’t promote it but I will so you should read it).
The next big stop after the Nantahala Outdoor Center is Fontana Dam. Descending down into the NOC was super tough on my knee making the climb out of the town the next day even more difficult. When we got to the first shelter for lunch and it started to rain, I was ready to stay put after only 5 miles. Farasi was never going to let this happen. Luckily, Schweppes and Mayor came to stay too and helped me convince her. The downside was that they helped by suggesting we do our first 20+ mile day into Fontana tomorrow. Farasi’s eyes lit up and I knew I’d agree eventually even if I griped about it. But I agreed (mainly just so I could take my shoes off after 5 miles.)
We woke up early for our first big day. Schweppes shared that the secret to a 20 mile+ day was to get in 10 before lunch. While Farasi loves to jump into the day with mystery, I study the book and know every climb and descent. I knew I needed to do 10 miles including Jacob’s Ladder by 1. Much to my surprise, I loved this day. Schweppes’ advice was motivating and I loved the first 10! And while my hiking style can usually be described as somewhat “leisurely”, I enjoyed hiking consistently with no real breaks for the morning. After about 15 miles, I was beginning to wonder why Schweppes, Mayor and Katana (the dog) hadn’t passed me yet. I no sooner wondered than the boys came down the switchback as if they were heroes waiting to rescue me, a damsel, for the final 6 miles. While I’ll never admit to needing their help, I was so glad the boys showed up when they did and really enjoyed their company for the final 6 miles. I am no where near their pace but I was grateful they hung back and made the time pass with Schweppes’ humor and Mayor’s stories. We finished the 21.7 miles in the dark but it was an awesome day and I was feeling good! We celebrated the next day with breakfast and a half day in Fontana!
….Or so we thought. We said goodbye to the boys who were getting off trail for their PCT thru and went back to our last spot on trail to begin. We made it the 1.2 miles to the Fontana “Hilton” Shelter and Farasi asked for a break. Normally, I would have loved this but it was definitely a red flag coming from Farasi. We then pushed on and completed the half mile dam crossing and made it to the Smokies sign when Farasi asked if we could camp here. We hadn’t gone 3 miles that day so I knew she must be dying. We ended up spending that night and the next in Fontana until she felt better and regained her strength. To be honest, I think we both needed the break and if nothing more our clothes definitely needed to be washed.
Luckily, we are feeling good and still excited to be out here. I am grateful to be doing this with Farasi. People often question us about starting as a pair. She and I definitely weren’t best friends when we started which I think is healthy. We are very different and definitely consider each other a balance more than a “match.” But I am thankful for a partner that I can both disagree with and laugh with and I think we’ll both push each other to grow more. We “fight” and aren’t the most sensitive around each other, but I think we are both very want to serve one another and that shows. But either way, we’re happy to be walking to Maine together.
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