Sunday, April 15, 2012

Public Service Announcement

A lot of hikers have their vices- some smoke, some drink, some drink a lot. But there is one issue that everyone struggles with on the trail and that is the issue of Food Porn. Food Porn can strike at any time- in conversation with another hiker or after a crappy dinner of ramen noodles. It is when you start talking about real food and I mean REAL food. You don't just say I am craving a cheeseburger, you say "I could go for a half pound juicy flame broiled angus burger with bacon, ketchup, lettuce, more bacon, and slices of American and Colby cheese". We were able to feed the lust for breakfast one morning, but those moments are few and far between. Thank goodness for towns and all their food selections and thank goodness I am going to feed that craving here in a few minutes :)

Day 31 (4/10) - Hot Springs to a pond (5.2 mi)
I woke up to the smell of bacon, and then I threw up a bunch. What a way to start my day. I think it was because of all the greasy food I ate yesterday. Because of my queasy stomach I was slow to get ready. After I did pack up I headed down to a little coffee shop at the end of town with wifi to eat a bagel and do some last minute facebooking. Nokey, Snagglefoot, Bear Foot, and Gypsie Soul met up with me and then we continued down the trail along the French Broad River and up to Lovers Leap. We only did 5.2 miles because Bear Foot was still feeling sick (they all got into Hot Springs Friday and were going to leave Sunday but she started throwing up and was pretty much out of it all weekend). Cooked dinner and felt pretty good afterwards but Bear Foot still wasn't eating so we called Chuck Norris and he came and picked her and Gypsie Soul up to take them back to the hostel. He offered the rest of us a room for free too but we need to be on the trail (I hope we don't regret that decision because it's supposed to drop down to 30 tonight). We hope they will catch back up over the next week.

Day 32 (4/11) - a pond to Little Laurel Shelter (14.4 mi)
Today is my 1 month anniversary on the trail. Party time! Actually it was kick my butt and freeze my butt off time. It got pretty cold last night but I slept so good but this morning I was just dragging. Actually all of us were. The forecast today was a high of 55 with high winds. We packed up camp and planned on eating breakfast at the first shelter which was 5 miles up. Big mistake. That was the longest 5 miles with some moderate climbs. We did get to see a cool tower that had a cell tower next to it. When I turned my phone on it went crazy with text messages and emails. When I got up to that shelter I could tell Nokey and Snagglefoot were still dragging like I was. We stuck with our mileage plan and after a combined breakfast and lunch, we headed on to what would mostly be down hill. My ankle was holding up pretty good but my knees were feeling the downhills. After a few road crossings the trail started a long uphill. I put on some Beatles and started the climb. Got to camp and everyone was bundled up and the first thing everyone said was grab your layers. I wish I would have listened because the first thing I did was find the privy so I could poop. It was a really cold poop. Threw on my layers and cooked dinner and after warming up in front of a nice fire got in my sleeping bag ready to tackle a night that was dropping into the 20's.

Day 33 (4/12) - Little Laurel Shelter to Jerry's Cabin Shelter (6.8 mi)
Another low mileage day but that's ok. We were slow to get going this morning because it was so cold. We actually didn't get on the trail until about 11. I decided to hike without my ankle brace and actually felt very good. The trail took a very steep and rocky turn to where we actually had to do a little rock climbing to get up to Big Firescald Knob but the view was so worth it. It looked like we were standing on the edge of the Appalachians because to the right it was all mountains and to the left it was valleys and towns off in the distance. It was a great place for lunch. Getting down was a mess. It was very large rocky drop offs to where I actually had to turn around and climb down. It was very rough and not well marked. I was so ready to just get back on dirt trail. After I did, I was kicking butt with great pace and great energy. I got to the next shelter and Nokey and Snagglefoot were ready to stay there. There was a fireplace in the shelter and that was enough to seal the deal after the cold night we had last night. Made some new German friends tonight as well- Frederica and Sebastian. They are a nice young couple from Colon thru hiking the trail. They has their first experience with beef jerky tonight and it was fun to watch. Oh yeah- totally hit the 300 mile mark today. 300 miles on these feet and I am feeling pretty good. Here's to 1885 more!

Day 34 (4/13) - Jerry's Cabin Shelter to Hogback Ridge Shelter (14.7 mi)
So I think I nearly froze to death last night even though we had a fire and everything and I'm pretty sure the German couple were doing it right next to me in the middle of the night. Oh well, not the first time that's happened (long story and it happened in England). So anyways, got off to a great start and did some big miles quickly. Felt great even up some big steep mountains. Had a great view from Big Butt mountain and had the song "Big Bottom" from Spinal Tap stuck in everyone's head. Also hiked through some great grassy fields and past a waterfall. On top of the next mountain I got cell signal and talked to Wendy for an hour as I hiked down and started the climb up Hogback. It wasn't nearly as steep as the other mountain but I think since I was getting close to that 15 mile mark I was just wearing down. Got to the shelter and cooked me up a double batch of Ramen and was a little adventurous- I added hot sauce. It was awesome!

Day 35 (4/14) - Hogback Ridge Shelter to No Business Knob Shelter (20.7 mi)
We got up extra early this morning to get a quick 2.5 miles out of the way so we could hitchhike and get a big ol breakfast and feast we did. 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, bacon, and a big bowl of grits was the ticket I needed for a big mile day. After breakfast we did a quick resupply and hitched a ride back to the trail. Once there we got some trail magic. So with only 2.5 miles accomplished we had extra full stomachs. Then we hit the trail again, this time with a vengeance. We got to walk through a real nice meadow and then started climbing Big Bald Mountain. Big Bald took forever to climb- like 6 miles just to get up to the top. It was basically a mini version of Max Patch. Then we started the just as long descent. By this point I was losing steam. We had talked about going for a 20 miler but I was having my doubts. I met everyone down at Spivey Gap where there was a cooler left with some trail magic and we had to decide whether to push on and hike in the dark or stay. Knowing how exhausted I was and how bad my feet were hurting, I made the obvious choice- lets keep going. We stayed close to each other that last 5 miles so we could help each other through all the obstacles on the trail like rocks and roots. By 9:45, we reached the shelter and caught up with a lot of people who were a day ahead of us. I am physically and emotionally drained and my feet are killing me. I think I have a new blister on my heal but will have to wait till morning to see. Time for bed and I doubt I will have any trouble sleeping tonight.

Day 36 (4/15) - No Business Knob Shelter to Erwin, TN (5.8 mi)
Slept like a baby last night. Knees and feet are still sore. I did get a major compliment first thing this morning. A guy named Otto who has hiked the trail like 14 times told me that I was the one guy on the trail that he truly respects on the trail this year since I have pushed through with my feet blisters and sprained ankle and did 20 miles yesterday. The hike was pretty easy and I even found myself doing some trail running down some of the longer stretches. Got down off the mountain to Uncle Johnny's Hostel to where we are waiting on Snagglefoot's friend to pick us up and take us to Johnson City. I am in major need of a shower!


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