Week 1: Springer Mountain to Hostel Around the bend

Week 1: Springer Mountain to Hostel Around the Bend 

    I’ve been getting on trail between 8:00 and 8:30 AM for the past week. I usually start the day with a pop tart and a cup of coffee. Each day I’ve hiked between 11 and 14 miles, several good climbs and almost a whole state down now.

    In six days my dinners have consisted of 4 packets of instant mashed potatoes, 1 vegan bibimbap dehydrated meal to which I was mildly allergic, and half a sandwich from Jersey Mike’s. I think I’ll be sticking with the potatoes. 

    Today I stayed at Hostel Around the Bend off a recommendation from a friend. Hostel life is very nice. Clean clothes, showers, warm bed, the whole 9 yards. There are a few friendly cats sleeping in the pile of sleeping bags and quilts people have left in the hiker box and a cute little dog wandering around. We watched the eclipse today passing a pair of those special glasses around the parking lot. We’ll leave tomorrow morning around 7. I expect the 8 miles to the border of North Carolina to be difficult but nothing I can’t handle.

Cat in a hiker box

    My biggest worry at this point is the upcoming rain. We’ve had a few rainy nights already but I haven’t had to hike in the rain yet. Weather forecasts are showing rain for the next 3 days. I have hiked in heavy rain before, but last time I fell off a small cliff. I’ve never hiked in multiple days of rain before. I’ve got everything in my pack inside a large garbage bag and everything I need quick access to in ziplock bags. Still I expect morale to be very low by the time I get to Franklin NC. 

    More than anything I’m surprised at how good I’m feeling. Feet are hurting, legs are hurting, but my soul is singing. I’m really having so much fun. I’ve done 6-7 days before and usually by day 5 I’m ready to be done. Maybe it’s because the end is so far away but I’m finding myself more excited every day. I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually and I’ll need to find some new motivation but for now the novelty is carrying me.

    I’ve met so many cool people too. Everyone I’ve met is such a character. Hippies, veterans, adventures, and people who really just love the community. Before starting the trail one of my big fears was that I wouldn’t have anyone to hang out with. I was scared I wouldn’t get along with people or not have enough in common to keep up a rapport. I’ve found it so easy to talk to people and make friends. I guess I didn’t take into account how much each hiker would have in common, just about everything that happens to me in a day is also happening to everyone else. It’s also funny how you’ll talk to someone for an hour, plans will be made, then a slight divergence means you may never see them again. And that’s totally fine, maybe the trail will bring them back, maybe it won’t but the passing moments are lovely enough to fill a whole friendship.

    Hardest day so far was day 5. I climbed Tray mountain along with several others. By the time I got to camp I set up my tent and just laid on my sleeping pad for almost an hour. I didn’t even bring the pad in the tent, I was just laying in the dirt. Water was about a half mile from where I was camping at Addis Gap and the half mile back may as well have been 10. Day 4 wasn’t much easier but that pain isn’t as fresh. 

    That day I was staying at blue mountain shelter and found myself camping with a German, a Dane, a Brit, and a Scott. I was the only American in camp. Today we’re all sitting around excitedly watching our Danish friend try his first pop tart. Reminds me of a friend I made a few days ago and haven’t seen since named Dr. Pop tart.

    I’ve been getting a lot of comments about my shelter setup. I’ll do a great list at some point. I made a lighter pack a few months ago but changed out so much it’s not particularly useful anymore. My base weight is somewhere around 15 pounds but that’s just a guess. My shelter is a 10’x10′ DD hammocks superlight tarp paired with an MSR hiker house 2. It’s a great combo, a ton of room you can sit all the way up, but a very large footprint. I’ve been using this size tarp along with the hiker house for about 2 years now and can set it up in about 10 minutes. Most of the gear I have with me I’ve  been using for several years at this point. The only new things are a closed cell foam pad and a 20° UGQ quilt. Both are working very well. The foam pad has been a pleasant surprise. I imagined I’d swap it out as soon as possible but I’ve been getting some of the best sleep of my life. Most nights I lay down around 7 and wake up around 7 a solid 12 hours later. One especially could night I slept maybe 4 hours but even that could have been worse.

    A hiker named Pack Mule is leaving trail tomorrow. He was hiking with his dad for the first few days. Tomorrow is Pack Mule’s birthday and his dad picked up a cake to celebrate. Now we’re enjoying a birthday cake and each other’s company before facing whatever tomorrow brings. What that is I don’t know but it’ll be hard and it’ll be worth it.

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Comments 1

  • Peggy Brooks : Apr 13th

    Go Brendan! We are enjoying reading about your adventures and the people you are meeting. I hope you faired well in the rain!!

    Aunt Peg


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