Well that’s week two done and dusted. we learnt some very hard lessons last week, mainly that my body was not ready for 14 mile days, over mountains with a 35lb pack!! This week we have done the same mileage but taken an extra day to do so which has meant that instead of needing to be carried into town as per last week, and crying from exhaustion, we glided (is that a word? Glode maybe?) into town in quite the graceful manner like the almost ladies that we are (I say almost because it’s been 6 days since I last showered or changed my clothes)
Thank you for everybody’s concern over my feet, they are so much better, healing up nicely which means they are very itchy, and cor, itching feet in a sleeping bag is a whole new set of yoga positions!! Check out all our milestones and firsts this week, it’s been a great week!!
Hiawasse Budget Inn.
Today we had a goal and that was to spend 90% of the day in a horizontal position. I would say we were pretty successful at meeting our goal, it got crazy when we started to realise just how questionable the motel was and that got us up. Washing clothes is fun when you don’t have anything spare to wear, I sported a pair of shorts and my down jacket as my laundry day outfit, but looking around and spotting other hikers, I thought I had the upper hand of outfits! Also I just want to talk about Crocs for a second. Previously they were the butt a lot of my jokes and famously brilliant sarcasm, but I take it back, all of it and want to publicly apologise, they are simply the best and most comfortable footwear I have ever owned, I am a convert and even wear them with socks and I’m not even a little bit ashamed!
All in all a great recovery day, food, Epsom salts, ibuprofen and a bed, everything I love.
Unicoi Gap to Tray Mountain Shelter. 5.2 miles.
We have planned to keep our mileage low for our first couple of days back on the trail, my pack is upsettingly heavy with 6 days of food in it. Town time is a great way to recover, but the cons are A) resupplying means a major load in your pack, and B) towns are mostly in valleys which means the start of the day is always big uphill hike and today was no exception. We had a late start to the day, it was after midday before we hit the trail so we arrived at the shelter much later than usual, all the good tent spots were taken and there was a crowd of, let’s say, not my people hanging out. We quickly pitched the tent and got in. Mostly people on the trail are friendly and open, but there are also some people who I will avoid like the plague. The next morning we’ve waited for everybody to leave before getting up and out, it was freezing in the night, the coldest I have ever been, I wore as many clothes I could fit on, the rest I stuffed in my sleeping bag and slept in my hat, gloves and scarf. The mountain is shrouded in mist and extremely erie, I want off this mountain!
Tray Mountain to Deep Gap shelter. 8 miles.
The weather was weird today, very misty, rainy and dreary. The worst thing about rain is not actually the wet but having to wear waterproof clothes, or as I like to call them, my sweat suit. Doing that much exercise in a waterproof basically means it’s raining on the inside of your clothes, but instead of clean sky water it’s salty, smelly, sticky body water. The jury is still out on whether it’s worth wearing them or not, so far the best use for them has been an outfit so I can wash my hiking clothes and not have to stand by the washers naked!
We made a big decision tonight and decided to actually stay in the shelter. The weather was supposed to be rainy and stormy overnight, there seemed to be an alright group of people around and the shelter seemed in good shape. There are pros and cons to shelter sleeping; pros being that it’s warm and out of the weather, it’s an easy pack up in the morning and it’s a lot more spacious than our tent (even when there ate 18 hikers sleeping in a room built for 12) cons, well just one con is SNORING!!!!! I cannot begin to explain to you the indescribable and completely irrational rage I get at the sound of snoring and this was so loud the only thing I can positively think is that it kept the bears away! I slept on and off, but not my best nights sleep, I won’t rule out shelters as we remained warm and dry but I will be investing in ear plugs.
Deep Gap Shelter
Deep Gap Shelter to random camp spot. 10.1 miles.
The day started off gloomy but quickly cheered up into a great day of hiking. Today was the first day I felt stronger than I did when I started. We seem to have got our mileage really right for us this week, we usually finishing hiking in the 5 o’clock hour and spend about 2 hours doing camp jobs. Tonight we found the best camp spot so far. We were up on a cute little hill but way down in a valley, there is a steam for water which I used to take a cowboy bath which felt incredible, I had no idea how much dried on sweat salt my face could hold! There are a few other hikers here, one lady we have seen around a lot makes us smile, no idea what her name is but we call her the ‘unique lady’, she hates uphill even more than me and everytime we pass her she likes to tell us the exact mileage and elevation gain to the top.
The night rounded off with a gorgeous sunset viewed through the trees, seeing raw beauty like that I’m certain contributed to the best nights sleep I’ve had on the trail so far.
Random camp spot to Standing Indian shelter. 10 miles.
Major milestone today, we crossed a state line from Georgia to North Carolina!! Officially completed all of the Appalachain Trail that Georgia has to offer!! It was another great day of hiking, big up hill climbs but we persevered and arrived at our night spot in time for, wait for it, another wash in the stream, small things guys but what a difference washing your undies out makes!
Standing Indian Shelter to Betty Creek Gap. 11.3 miles.
Whoa, another milestone, today we summitted the first (of many) 5000ft mountains, 5435ft to be exact. No view at top which was disappointing, we are deep in the green tunnel of rhododendrons which are the only green things we see, everything else is still being very lazy waking up from winter. The terrain was amazing and we flew through the miles. I’m really noticing a change in our pace, we nearly always average about 2 miles per hour now. Today was our longest hiking day this week but it felt really manageable. We arrived at our camp spot and it was really crowded with people who are not ‘our people’. We have dubbed them Trail Bros, they like to make comments like, well if you had driven as far as you walked it would only take 2 hours, and I’m thinking, hey mate, we are at the same place on the trail, it’s not how far I’ve walked, it’s how far we’ve walked! They also love taking about gear to which my response is always, I have the very best equipment I can afford, so to me it’s top of the line! Bill Bryson gets it so right, when asked why he had a particular pack his response was ‘I thought it was better than carrying my stuff in my arms’.
Betty Creek Gap to Rock Gap. 8.4 miles.
Such a fantastic day today. Knowing you are walking towards a bed, calorie rich food and a shower puts a pep in your step for sure but so does knowing that the 100 mile mark is just around, no actually up the next Mountain. Albert Mountain to be exact and I was hoping, after looking at the elevation profile it was a typing mistake, it looked like a sheer climb, just under 500ft over 0.3 of a mile. It was not a mistake and it turned out to be a great highlight of the day. We had to stow our trekking poles and climb hand over hand up rocks to get to the top. As people who live to play and climb on things, this was nature’s playground! We were rewarded at the top with not just the 100 mile mark but the most spectacular views so far, it was simply breathtaking. The rest of the afternoon was uplifting and miraculous that we were in such great shape after 6 days on the trail.
For now I’m leaving you in considerably better shape than a week ago, and feel great about that, don’t get me wrong every morning it takes me about 15 mins just to be able to force my feet into a walking position, my back hurts, my knees kill but it feels incredible!