Day 12: Thursday, May 12th 2016
I’m up around 6:30 even though breakfast isn’t served until 8am. I wanted to get one more bubble bath in and wash my hair again. It feels so good to be so clean. I go downstairs right at 8am and have a huge pancake with crunchy bacon, my favorite, a small but tasty cinnamon bun with oj and lots of ice water. I’m pretty sure I can taste the cinnamon. Back upstairs, I’m almost done loading my pack with more water and I’m checking out right at 9am. A guy working at the front desk tells me just to take the railroad tracks all the way to the trail instead of getting back on the little roads and I thank him for the information. Saves me about half a mile so I’ll take it. I walk along the Railroad tracks and think to myself I’m like those little kids in old movies with a stick and a sack attached to the top walking along the RR. Except my stick and sack are a 36 pound pack on my back. Its heavy again loaded down with lots of fresh spring water from a spigot inside the Inn.
Today is hot and another good walking day. But by 10:45 you’d never have known I had a bath just a few hours ago. Sweat is dripping off my in no time. I pass a few creeks and splash water on my face, neck and chest, it’s cool and is refreshing. I walk up mostly today but the trail is like walking at an angle. It reminds me of when Dad would say “You know why those cows/ goats can stand on that hill don’t you?” We would always answer “Why?” Then he would say, “Because two of their legs are shorter on one side.” And that’s just how I feel today, only I don’t have one shorter leg. I have to use Do It and To It for safety and for support today. Lots of rocks and tree roots to step over. Lots of going up. It begins to rain around 3:20 just as I’ve finished a snack and then I hear the thunder coming. I put my tent up in a good spot along the trail. Not a great spot but I really don’t want to walk in a storm. Rain, I don’t mind… storms, I still do. I get it up just in time and thankfully the storm blows over quickly within an hour and the sun comes back out.
I’ve still got a few more good hours of day light and so I take my tent back down and go for it. I don’t walk too far before I have to stop to blow my nose for the 80th time and just as I do, a tree branch falls right off a tree four feet in front of me onto the trail. (Dad, it’s as if they’re aiming for me.) Thankfully, I had to stop to blow my nose when I did. Geeze! I only make it another mile and a half before the rain and storm return. This time I get wet and so does my tent a little, not fun. I’m done and it’s only 6:15pm. I make my camp tonight right on the trail and stake it down good as to not roll off the side of the mountain in a big ass gust of wind. I eat, journal, change into my camp clothes and then by 7:30, I’m ready for sleep. I still make it 9.8 miles today which is great, but I was really hoping to get a few more in. Hopefully the weather is better in the evening tomorrow. But the good news is camp sites are coming and that’s exciting.
Total Miles: 89.9 miles
Day 13: Friday, May 13th 2016
It storms for a bit but rains all night. I wake up around 2:33am and really have to pee but don’t. It’s cold and rainy and I just hope I can hold it. Before I roll over again to sleep I think about all those times I was “too lazy” to get my sorry ass up out of my bed to go ten steps to the bathroom in my nice, dry, air conditioned apartment. I make a mental note to never be that lazy again. I fall back asleep and don’t wake up until I hear the birds. Its’ still very dark in my tent even though it’s 6:07am. I do get up this time to pee and check out the day that awaits me on the other side of my tent. It’s really foggy! Visibility is around twenty feet, maybe thirty in some places. It’s spooky on this mountain. However, it’s not hot so I’ve got that going for me. I pack up and I’m on the trail by 8:45. It takes me a few extra minutes to shake my wet tent, rain fly and footprint and fold them up.
And so, I walk. I make it maybe a mile headed to the Grassy Ridge Mine Overlook and see a hiker. A man, going to where I started yesterday. He’s quick to say the weather is supposed to get better tomorrow and be sunny. Good news. When I get to the overlook at 5,250 feet in elevation, the sun starts to shine and you can see the mountains. I take a picture at the overlook. Then, I go over to the one picnic table for more breakfast and to journal and not ten minutes later the fog has returned. I go back to the same spot and take a picture to show the difference. I chat with a man collecting the trash from the bins and he tells me that it hailed in town yesterday so much so that pea sized hail covered parts of the road. Several motorcycles and cars pass by as I eat and watch the sun try to poke back through the fog. As I write that, it does.
I make it 3 miles to Doubletop Mountain Overlook at 5,365 ft. and sit and air out my piggies. They’ve become soaked from walking in the tall grass and the bits of rain from last night that still linger on them have brushed off onto my shoes and seep into my socks. Along the trail there is scat everywhere and I try to remember that it rained last night so it only looks fresh. That eases my mind a bit, thankfully. Today’s theme song is “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé and I hum it a lot today. It’s 11:55am and it’s turned into a really beautiful day in May. As I sit and write I flip my now wet, soggy socks like they were pancakes. Trying to get them as dry as possible before I safety pin them to my pack to finish drying. The sun is shining now and I’m off. As I make my way up and down, in and out of stinging nettles as they prick my legs, I say “ouch” but really it’s more annoying than hurting me. After the 8,367th one I just say “goodbye skin”.
Not too long on the trail I begin to hear lots of yelling, not in the “I’m in trouble” kinda way more in the “Heave Ho” kinda way. I make my way around to where there are several people working on the trail not far from MP 434.2. They’re with the Carolina Thread Trail (I’m pretty sure) and what’s truly amazing about these people is they are almost all grey/ white headed and doing hard labor. Moving large rocks, widening the trail with hoes and heavy looking equipment. Here I was thinking how badass I was and these older folks are out here doing real work… much more badass than me for sure. I thank every one of them as I pass by and tell them how much I really appreciate their hard work! There must have been almost twenty of them. One man stops me, who reminds me of me when he starts talking, as says to me “Look at all this good work I’m putting in just for you. I’ll get sad if you don’t stop and admire it.” And so of course I do. He’s working on a part that is widening a smaller section of the trail so it’s easier to get up. I have a chat with him about my trek and of course he says to everyone after him “She’s doing the whole thing!” people smile and wish me luck. I get to a part where they’re moving a large rock. At least six people are moving it and they stop to let me pass. One man holds out his hand to help me over and I end up straddling this rock and then make it over. They are all so pleased that they saw a hiker today. A few so how nice it is to see people using the trail knowing all the work they put in to keeping it so nice for others. I do admire them and really do have the biggest smile on my face passing each one of them!
After that I make my way to an old roadbed and it’s not a far walk before it opens up to a really beautiful open, grassy area where you can see mountains for miles. It’s picturesque and I get teary-eyed! There’s something so powerful about seeing a place that’s really gorgeous that you hiked to instead of drove to and walked a mile from the car to see. Another 1.5 miles later there’s a really pretty uphill spot that’s covered with wild daises. I enjoy the big open fields because it’s rare that I see them. Up next is another old roadbed which is pretty level and I pass a campsite to the right. A left turn followed by another campsite which I decide is a great spot to have a snack break and a rest. Not long after I get my pack back on and make my way up, I see several hikers. I can see they all have on large packs like mine, possibly thru-hikers. I chat with a guy in the front of the group for a quick second with a red shirt on. He tells me the guy in the back is the guy I need to chat with so I wait for him. It’s Jerry Barker, a Board Member of the FMST. I remember a slideshow he presented of him and a lady paddling the Neuse River during last year’s FMST Annual Meeting. He’s very happy to meet me as I am him. He lets me know that when I get close to Raleigh to call him for dinner and trail talk or a night’s stay or both. I make a note to do just that. We say goodbye and wish each other happy trails. I shake his hand and then I’m off.
I hike 1.7 miles to what the trial guide says is “much more rocky and difficult”. Great! I slowly make my way up and down more large rocks. Sometimes I get small branches stuck in Do It and To It and drag them along a bit. I’m stepping over a large branch when all of a sudden, “Whack!” One got stuck and went back like a sling shot and pops me right in the back of my left leg. It was like getting a whippin’. I know its red and going to leave a welt but I can’t see it, only feel my skin starting to swell. After that I’ve had it. I start grabbing up sticks around me and just start slinging them! I look just like Jenny from Forrest Gump when she’s throwing rocks at her old house. After I sling about 12 I’m done and feeling much better.
I make my way over several small streams and now I’m thinking of Tom Hanks movies. The first one that comes to my mind is Joe vs the Volcano. I sing that song “Come Go With Me” where he’s dancing so silly on his luggage trunks in the middle of the ocean. I do a few of those weird hand moves near my face like he does and that makes me giggle. Then that makes me think about the people of Waponi Woo and how much they love Orange Soda and now I’m craving a Sunkist!
I cross over Beechflat Creek and only make it maybe a half mile more to a place to camp for the night. While the sun is still out I need to dry out my tent and gear from last night. I walk from 8:45am to 6:45pm and only walk 6.1 miles. Today was fantastic and I feel like I should’ve gotten more miles in but that’s just how tough the trail was today. My total miles today is 96 and that means tomorrow I’ll reach 100 miles which I’m so excited about… my first 100! I’m done by 8:30pm and close my eyes.
Total Miles: 96 Miles