Sunday, March 25, 2012

We Are Family

This week has been an incredible week with two big milestones achieved! First off, we said goodbye to Georgia as we entered North Carolina and we also hit the 100 mile mark. Last week I mentioned small victories as being my theme on the trail and it is a very good feeling when the small victories lead to huge milestones! These are the things that will get me to Maine.

This week is also the first week that I have been part of a little hiker family. When Stefan and I got to Hiawasee, Salt Bomb and Nutter Butter joined us and stuck with us. The first day out, we met up with Steam Roller who also joined us. All week we have hiked and camped together and even had several crossings with honorary members o our family Jaybird and 2% Tim. So your probably wondering what my trail name is. It's "The Flash." it has 2 meanings- I am kinda slow so it is ironic and keeps me smiling and keeps spirits up. It is also because I was peeing one night and had my headlamp on and didn't realize I was putting on a show for everyone. Good times! So let me give you the breakdown of what last week looked like.

Day 9 (3/19)- Dicks Creek Gap to Muskrat Creek Shelter (11.8 mi)
I was cruising today. It must have been the magic of the all you can eat buffet we had in Hiawassee. It could have also been the excitement of getting out of Georgia. But Georgia is a bitter old gal and didn't let us go easily. A few tough climbs and then welcomed into the Tarheel State with 3 very steep climbs. I was glad to get those 3 mountains out of the way to get to the shelter. Rewarded with a very beautiful sunset.

Day 10 (3/20)- Muskrat Creek Shelter to Carter Gap Shelter (12.5 mi)
Today was another big big mile day that I really began to feel my legs getting stronger. We climbed Standing Indian Mountain which is the highest point on the trail south of the Smokies. Stopped for a nice lunch on top and made it down to the shelter with a nice campfire. Steamroller had a hard time finding wood for the fire just for Herman the German to show him up carrying these huge logs out. From that point on the phrase "there is no wood in the woods" became widely used.

Day 11 (3/21)- Carter Gap Shelter to Rock Gap Shelter (11.6 mi)
The big miles are starting to take its toll on me. What makes it worse is that miles seem to last longer than you would think they should be. But that all changed as soon as we hit Albert Mountain- the steepest little mountain. According to the guidebook, to reach the top was only .3 of a mile, but that .3 was pretty much straight up. I had heard about how tough it was and was excited to see for myself. When we were on the base of the mountain we were looking for the fire tower on top and when we saw it there wasn't a clean word out of my mouth. It was way up there and it looked higher than .3. This was the first part of the trail that we actually did a little mountain climbing working all the muscles. The payoff was huge as we could see the world from the top. Amazing views and all in all a fun climb for being very steep. And on top of that, somewhere in that climb we reached the 100 mile mark! Got to our spot to camp for the night and so did a bunch of other people as our campsite became tent city with about 16 of us camping together. Too many people wanted to go to Franklin the next day.

Day 12 (3/22)- Rock Gap Shelter to Siler Bald Shelter (8 mi)
We kicked the day off with a ride into Franklin for resupply and all we could eat pizza. The shuttle took us to the far end of town from everything we needed so we walked because that is what we do. We finally got tired of walking so we found a nice guy with a pickup that was willing to take us to the Fun Factory. The Fun Factory is exactly as advertised- all you can eat pizza, go carts, putt putt, and arcade. As good as all the pizza was, I found myself eating more salad. All in all it was a fun relaxing time with my little family as we celebrated some milestones and let loose. We found another friendly guy with a pickup and headed to the grocery store. A shuttle ride back to the trail for the toughest 8 mile stretch I found myself on. Those city miles and food didn't treat me too good. Sucked it up and made it to camp for the night.

Day 13 (3/23)- Siler Bald Shelter to Cold Spring Shelter (11.6 mi)
Today was a rainy day for the most part. And it was another day we were walking through the fog. We got to another tower with an overlook but didn't even bother going up. On and off rain made the day pretty miserable but the hopes of Nantahala and seeing family and an off day made it easier to push. We set up camp on a ridge that had the potential to have a great view in between clouds. As soon as I finished eating dinner the skies opened up and it just poured. We all made a run for our tents and were in the rest of the night. Luckily I had a movie on my iPhone to pass the time while it rained. My fail of the night came when I got up to pee after the rain stopped. My sleeping bag liner was stuck to my sock and when I went out I drug it out and it just laid in a huge puddle. So no liner in my bag that night. It was the coldest night by far on the trail but luckily my sleeping bag was up for the challenge.

Day 14 (3/24)- Cold Spring Shelter to Nantahala Outdoor Center (11.7 mi)
Today was supposed to be mostly down mountain and I have a funny feeling if they would have removed all the uphills, we could have made it down much quicker. Today was a tough day. Very steep downhills that were rocky and wet made for some difficult terrain. We did get some amazon 360 degree views from the top of Wesser Bald but that became an afterthought to the rough declines. I actually slipped and fell coming down off the mountain with about 3 miles left and tweaked a muscle above my left knee. That slowed me way down the rest of the day. When I finally made it to the NOC it started pouring down rain again. I ran in to start asking about rides into Bryson City. Luckily I saw Alpine who I met a few months ago who did my pack shakedown. He asked around to see if he could get me a ride and after no luck made me a hitch hiking sign and told me it should work quickly. Sure enough the first time I held out the sign a car pulled over. Talk about some much needed trail magic. This guy was the store manager of the NOC and gave us a ride to the Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson where we enjoyed more trail magic in the form of a beer called Trail Magic. I promised Stefan some beer and i had to deliver. From there we had one more trail angel named Luke who runs a b&b in town and gave us a ride all the way to my grandmothers. It was a rough day but all made better with the kindness of some trail angels and some home cooking.

2 weeks in and I am a little sore but spirits still high. Sad to see the amount of people who have already dropped out. Physically, another week or 2 and my legs should be at full strength to get me going the long haul. Mentally, any time I have doubts or get discouraged I just think of all the people who have donated to Active Water who believe in what I am doing and I think of all the people who will be effected by the clean water that I will help provide by walking all these crazy miles. With all the support from everyone, I don't think I can fail!

1 comment:

  1. Brian, I am loving your updates every week & find myself looking forward to the next one! I'm so very proud of you! You cintinue to impress & amaze me! Love from your aunt, Cindy