Day 10: Tuesday, May 20th 2016
The wind blows all night. I got up to pee once and the sky was so dark it was almost blank. No lights or stars, just darkness. However, there was a light yellow glow around the mountains outline, it was lovely and I tried to get a good picture but it didn’t turn out anything like it looked in real life. I’ll only have the picture in my mind. The bathroom door giggled in the wind all night and the flagpole chain rattles against the pole and made it almost impossible to get a good nights rest. I wake up for my day at 6am to kids voices in the background. I get up to pee again, change clothes in my tent, eat breakfast and brush my teeth. Then I’m off again.
Today’s goal is to make it to the Balsam Mountain Inn, where hikers can camp for free! I’m headed down mostly this morning and I can see the road again from the trail and can hear the cars rushing by. I’m really don’t want to miss the turn later today for the Inn so my hope is that when I get to the BRP there will be people to ask who know. As I get closer to the road walking down I can see Fork Ridge Overlook, elevation 5280, and see a man walking around. I run. As much as I can, I run down the rest of the trail with caution. I check for cars and go over to say hi. He’s taking a break from riding his pretty white Harley and snacking on some grapes. I ask if he knows where the Inn is and he knows it’s that way and points to his right. I knew that! Anyways, we chat for a few minutes and I get out a snack as well. He lives in the mountains part of the year and is a retired Police Officer from Florida. He drove a Police motorcycle for 32 years and still very much enjoys the cool mountain breeze. He’s no help but is nice to talk with and soon takes off after wishing me a safe hiking trip. I sit down and eat my second leftover taco from Sunday and have lots of water.
Then two day hikers pass by and begin going up on the trail where I last came down. I get up and run to talk with them, they know where the Inn in, I can tell. They do indeed know exactly where I need to turn off the trail and then I thank them and I’m off. I walk along side the BRP for about ten minutes. I walk on the white line and wave at cars so they see me. I’d like to walk in the grass along the side but the road is at a horrible slope and it hurts my ankles so that decides that. I start singing:
There she was just a-walkin’ down the street, singin’ do-wah diddy-diddy down diddy-do, snappin’ her fingers and shufflin’ her feet, singin’ do-wah diddy-diddy down diddy-do. She looked good, LOOKED GOOD, she looked fine, LOOKED FINE, she looked good, she looked fine and I nearly lost my mind. Before I knew it she was walkin’ next to me, singin’ do-wah diddy-diddy down diddy-do.
I didn’t look good or fine but I did lose my mind when I saw the MST blaze again.
I make it 4.7 miles by 12:20 and take a short break at the Woodfin Creek Bridge. I splash cold creek water on my face, arms, back, neck, legs and even take off my Buff (Thank you, Heather!! I wear it almost every day) and wet it so it cools me off a bit. It’s a gorgeous day in May but it’s hot. I drink all my water from my water bottle and refill it with more, cool creek water. YUM! Then I’m off again. For days now I’ve been doing this but it’s really hilarious to me today. When I’m hiking up sometimes I pretend I’m Dr. Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. I do that part in the movie where she’s all bloody and hurt from running away from dinosaurs and she sees Dr. Alan and she tells herself to “Run!” I do this in my head but I don’t run, I just hope I can make it to the next tree or fallen log without stopping. Most of the time I do. It’s fun to play games while also hiking alone in the woods. It keeps me entertained. Plus, Jurassic Park is classic.
Making my way down to the road I stop to take a picture of a small waterfall then get back on the trail. I must say that today is my favorite so far. The hiking trail next to the Blue Ridge Parkway is amazing. It’s mostly down, not too hard, not too many rocks or difficult places to maneuver around or over. This is the best day I’ve had so far and I can really say today I’m enjoying my hiking! Sure other times have been nice but this one is a gold star for sure. While walking I can still hear the cars and motorcycles rushing by. At one point a gang of motorcycles go by and their radio is so loud I can clearly make out the song. It’s one of my all-time favorites… Another One Bites the Dust by the talented, Queen. It brings back memories of singing and dancing on Grandaddy and Grandmothers pool table in their basement growing up. Now I’m even happier than I was before! So now I sing Queen songs and really just enjoy the walk.
The trail takes me to a gravel road and I don’t enjoy the gravel. It’s dry and makes me slip and slide sometimes which isn’t super fun. I press on. Sometimes I walk along the sides where the brown crunchy leaves are and there’s more dirt so it hurts my feet less and so I’ll cuss less. When I do that, dozens of tiny brown grasshoppers jump out in all directions and sometimes follow along with me for a few steps. By 2:15 I make it 7.5 miles to an overlook and sit and have a rest on some rocks at one of the MST posts. I eat and hydrate and kick my feet up for a little break before getting back onto the BRP for about a mile. For the next few miles I pass Mile Post 444, turn onto the BRP again at Balsam Gap, and pass MP 443. I cross over railroad tracks and make my way 9.8 miles to my stopping spot for the trail. But the place I’m wanting to stay is another 1.5-2 miles away. I make my way over small back town roads, go up a very steep gravel driveway and end up at the top of a hill at the Balsam Mountain Inn. I’ve finally arrived. Its 4:45 when I walk in and get to the front desk where a lady working has no idea why it says in my hiking guide book that hikers can camp for free. Great! So I end up getting a room and at least this way I can get a shower, charge my phone to call the parents, and get some dinner. The restaurant menu also has a beer and wine list… woohoo!
Making my way upstairs, my room, 202 is the first one on the right. I go in and it’s the same as last time. I put my pack down, undress and go shower. Only this room doesn’t have a shower. It has a tub, one of those clawfoot tubs, fun. I use a whole small bottle of bubble bath and have me a Pretty Woman kinda bubble bath. Bubbles are all the way to the top and as I put my feet in and sink down. Some of the bubbles spill over the sides. It’s nice and hot and I just close my eyes and relax. I soak and enjoy the warm suds that surround me until my fingers and toes are all wrinkly. I smile at the thought of calling it grandma fingers like I did when I was younger. Then I think to myself, I know the real reason they do that, it’s one of my favorite Fun Facts. Your finger and toes wrinkle to get a better grip on wet objects much like that of water on rain treads in car tires. After my bath I wash my dirty clothes in the tub and hang them on hangers in the bathroom to dry. Oh it’s nice to have clean clothes again.
I put on the only clean clothes I have because dinner is at 6pm. Dinner is immaculate. It’s one of those huge old homes with cobwebs in the windowsills but have homemade rolls that are too good to describe. I eat all of my chicken and white bean soup and savor a Green Man IPA all throughout my meal. As I sit alone, I listen to the other two couples (they are the only other people staying at the Inn) talk about Marilyn Monroe films and the other couple debate on whether it’s ok to spend $3,000 on a mattress. I think to myself I really hope I can end up talking mattresses one day with a man I love and be truly happy. Next they talk about words that are appropriate to describe wine. Sweet, sour, etc. and then they discuss how grassy is or isn’t a small and how cinnamon doesn’t taste only smell. The man says it doesn’t taste and the woman says it does and that she can taste it when she makes french toast. The song Fools Rush In plays overhead as I devour my chicken alfredo and more rolls. I pay my tab and head back to my room. I talk to the parents and check Facebook and then I go right to sleep.
Total Miles: 80.1 miles
Day 11: Wednesday, May 11th 2016
I cough all night long. I wake up with all the intentions of hiking today. I go to breakfast early and afterwards I sit on the front porch in a rocking chair and debate having a zero day. I woke up feeling weak and running a small fever. The cough I have didn’t help my sleep. I call Madre and ask her to go to the bank for me and put some of my cash that I left behind so I can stay another night. I need a zero. My body is telling me so and I’m glad I listen. I get back into my room, take of my pants and bra, and crawl into bed. It’s a panties and tee kinda day. There are no tv’s or phones in our rooms and it’s so nice… no distractions from rest. Not just sleep, but real rest. I text a few girlfriends and journal about yesterday evening. It’s so nice to be off my feet. I read Facebook messages and close my eyes for an early morning snooze. I toss and turn and decide I can’t sleep even though that would be magic. I’ve got too many things on my mind. So I do what anyone in my position would do… I watch the first three episodes of my favorite show, Game of Thrones and have a cold Diet Coke. I just relax and in between GOT I write my blogs and every little bit I just lay there with my eyes closed.
Dinner is at 6pm. I signed up for the early dinner so I could get back to bed before 8. Tonight I have one of my favorite meals, filet mignon and mashed potatoes with a glass of red wine. I’m the happiest person I know! After I eat I’m full and feeling a little better and rested and I go back to my room to get my things together so I’ll have less to do in the morning. I brush my teeth and crawl back into the bed and finish two more blogs before sleep. Lights out. Great zero day!
Total Miles: 80.1 miles (zero day)