Starting Location: Rock Gap Shelter
Destination: Siler Bald Shelter
Total Miles: 119.1
Hi all! Had to skip a few entries there to speed things along a bit. I bet some of you were wondering how I was able to manage 79.8 miles in just one day! Well, for those of you who are keeping track, my record for daily miles is just under half of that, at around 34 miles. But, lucky for me, I don't have any of those kinds of days planned on this hike...at least until my mom comes out for a week and really wants to crank out the miles!
Well, after leaving Neels Gap and walking with Chestnut to Low Gap Shelter, we were joined by Semicolon for a night under the stars. Since Low Gap Shelter on 3/13/04, Semicolon and I have been walking together nearly every day to Blue Mt. Shelter where we met Bogie and Bacall (section hikers—they're grrreat!), and then on to Deep Gap Shelter where we met MJ/Blue Eyes (famous for her oatmeal I hear) and her dad Yogi. The following day, we moved only a few miles to Dicks Creek Gap and got a hitch down to the Blueberry Patch Hostel where the two of us had the whole place to ourselves. We got a ride into Hiawassee, GA for food and re-supply before heading back up to the Hostel for the night. The next morning, Gary and his wife Lennie treated us to their homemade pancakes w/blueberry jam from their organic farm (yummy deliciousness) before whisking us back to the Gap and back on the trail, ready to cross the state line into North Carolina (yay!) and on to Muskrat Creek Shelter.
At Muskrat Creek Shelter and the following night at Carter Gap Shelter, we shared the shelter with Shot and his beagle named Governor, who was a lot of fun to monkey with. Also, crossed paths again with Seiko who I haven't seen since the first night on Springer. He told me then that he's hiked every one of his 13 thru-hikes exactly the same way.
Got my first bit of rain walking the last 2 hours between Muskrat Creek and Carter Gap Shelters, but the trail is still very gentle, so it was quite pleasant. However, the foot pain from my plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head on the 17th and 18th, so I went back to my old routine of hiking strong for an hour, and then taking a 10 minute break after each hour. This is also good because it forces me to stop and breathe and take in the scenery I might otherwise miss while hiking along with my eyes down at the trail all day long. In addition to the rests, I've been trying to rehab at night by sleeping with my feet up against the wall of the shelters so that my Achilles will heal in the proper position, hopefully reducing my foot pain eventually. The first night after trying it, Semicolon and I walked from Carter Gap to Rock Gap, and my feet never really started to complain in earnest.
Also, last night at Rock Gap, Professor T showed up from Vermont to walk with me for 2 weeks, through the Smokies to Hot Springs, NC. Thanks for the Scones Maureen!!!!! Hopefully the weather will be as nice for the next 2 weeks as it has been so far. Well, it's back to the trail this afernoon after stopping in to Franklin, NC for a quick resupply and face-stuffing at the Shoney's buffet. Happy Trails!