Monday 13th August
I had several owls serenading me in the night.. Nice.
I was up by the time my second alarm went off and was soon packed on on trail by 6.45 I wanted 18 if I could do it but knew I had some hefty climbs to do .
I plugged my headphones in and listened to 2 bravo zero a talking book I had downloaded as some had recommended that I read it. Not my usual book but a talking book is easier and it may help me with the miles.
I pushed on listening to Andy. I hadn’t gone too far when I saw a hiker waving to me . I took one headpiece out of my ear.
Do you have an android phone he asked,?
I recognised him as the fast hiker from Boston but couldn’t remember his name.
His phone appeared dead and he wanted to try a different charger / cable. I duly obliged but no life appeared in the phone.
“Yep looks dead” I suggested. leaving it plugged in for a while just in case..
He put the charger back into.my pack and thanked me as i returned to the trail I’m sure that sometime he would race back past me..
I began the customary first climb and chugged my way up eventually emerging out onto a clearing and with some great views. although a bit misty and overcast. as I began the decent a misty rain began to fall. I stopped to put on my pack rain jacket as misty rain has a habit of becoming a deluge.
I continued to go down and began to clamber over huge chunks of rock and being now wet they were slippy a d so I was slow . at last I was at the bottom and a flat bit for a while. I crossed over a road and there was the familiar trail board given information and telling you the does and don’ts
Sitting nearby was a sobo . “How’s it going” I asked .
“Good thanks , so are you ready for the climbs?”
I was never ready for the climbs but I knew that they were there .so laughed at his question. .
I continued on until I saw a sign that read please do not shoot the bears with a collar.
This made me both laugh and feel sad, as yes they shoot bears on this state.
I did the usual meandering then the trail shoot upwards. I dragged myself and my pack up some bits were steep sometimes you got a rest but it was still up .my watch was keeping score with its hourly pings at 11.30 I was completely knackered and saw the perfect spot to sit and take a break plus it had a lovely view too.
I dropped my pack and set with my back to a large rock . trying to get my breath and relax at the same time. Then i broke into my snacks and stuffed my face with mini mars bars, skittles, slim-jims and dried apricots washed down with a few slurps from my bladder. I took about 20 minutes and I was just about to leave when I thought Exped. My mattress has an Inflator called a snozzel bag and you fill it full of air then pushing into your bed. easy peasy and I love it much better than arriving knackered at camp then trying to inflate it by huffing and puffing into it.
But my snozzel bag had torn so was useless. and as i had cell service i gave them a ring .I spoke to a really helpful man at the end of the phone but I hadn’t done my homework so blurted out the next post office on my list.
It would be there Friday fantastic and so j felt relieved and very pleased with myself. it was only later when I was checking my maps that I discovers that the post office was miles away and miles away from the trail Dam and bollocks, Snail how did you do that… especially as the next post office is on trail and I walk through the town. Dam too late now as I can’t change it as the service provider i went with is patchy at best. I will just have to hitch there grab it and hitch back probably a waste of a day. but that’s my fuckup.
I put it out of my mind and got back to the trail . It was very similar to earlier. two big climbs then a down
As I circled down I met a lady who was getting water her name was Fern as in Charlottes Web. We chatted for a few minutes as I too got water.
The next climb had huge chucks of rock to get over or around before dropping down , as i descended I could see a road, as I crossed over I could see Fern and in the parking area was the familiar RV that Ossie and wander woman used. I walked straight on and began to climb up the other side when I saw them behind me. I waved then pushed on.
It seemed to take me ages to get up the next hill, mountain as I summited I met another hiker who was sat puffing too.
“How did you find that” he asked.
“It’s a killer” i replied too many climbs today and I’m really struggling.
“I’m glad it not just me then, where are you heading the camp ground or the hut. ?
“Neither, I will walk to 6pm and see where I am but I don’t want to get down the other side. As I knew there was one more big climb as it had the fire tower in top.
As I left the other hiker I headed down then imeaditly back up over more rock and the blazes were not so easy to find so you stood staring into the distance until you could spot one. I found this really frustrating and the trail wasn’t easy with the slippery rock and huge steps to pull your self up. The trail eventually evened out enabling me to push. I i pushed on i ran into a dozen weekend hikers going the other way. Have a great hike was the usual reply, then several sobos came past, one was hiking barefoot omg wow . Rather him than me.!!
Then a really attractive girl came by in a crop top, good Luck I called several more yards I found a bra on the trail I presumed it belonged to her but by now she was out of ear shot and I had no intention of chasing after her so I just hung it on a branch. If another Sobo came along I would ask them to grab it.
Now came the last climb, well the last climb that I intended to do it was 4pm and I was tiring and I really wanted to hike until 6 if my little legs would only oblige. the climb started and went on and in and up it was steep , I was tired ..I began to swear at the trail and urge myself on. My legs hurt my feet hurt my shoulders hurt as I dragged my pack up this last mountain . omg omg, I kept stopping, slurping water and pushing on again. The trail then got even steeper and the rock became huge slabs .No grip and these were wet. The word is “challenging” but I could think of several ruder ones. After the slabs there were rock steps, steep steps , I arrived at a sort of half way point. again solid slabs of rock but the first half had wooden steps up and then the second slab had iron railings drilled into them to help you climb
once over that it was rock steps again. I swore more, kept stopping, slurping drink then pushing on ..I was very slow I was very tired. Why does the Appalachian trail make you climb every single bloody mountain. At last I was on soil, still up but a more gentle incline.
I was almost at the top. several signs pointed to camp sites (tenting). I walked on and still up.
At last there it was, the fire tower. I took 5 minutes before moving on. I went to look at the shelter Or rather the old fire wardens. There was one lady hiker here. I said my hellos had a nose around then set off down the trail. I hadn’t gone far when the mud returned . FUCK.
I thought that I had seen the last of this as it really slows you down unless you don’t care and steam straight through it. I then came across hordes of wood wow the Trail Teams had been really busy . logs had been put in to direct water away from the trail. A huge amount if effort had gone until this and it still looked as it was in process. Further on and huge planks. and nails had been left at the edges of the biggest bogs .
Wow they are going to bridge all these, there were endless amounts of logs and planks and more nails
As I continued my decent every now and then there was more water management .going on ..again trying to move the water off of the trail . This really impresses me as these logs and lengths of wood all had to be carried up the trail. It was almost 6 pm when I crossed a fire road and was surprised to see another huge pile of wood that had been unloaded all of which would be carried up the trail by volunteers. again I felt humbled.
Okay I needed a camp spot as the light was fading and my watch said 6.30. I was hoping that there may be space by the creek at the bottom of this hill. As I got nearer I could hear the water tumbling down the hill and caught glimpses of the bridge that crossed it.
When i got nearer i could see several tents this side. and when i crossed over was dismayed to see many tents the other side too.. Dam I thought I did a quick scout, nothing.
I walked to the road and on the other side was a spot. it was a bit of a compromise but I was tired. it will have to do. I threw up my tent and was making tea in the dark. something I hadn’t done in a while. I ended up eating in my tent with my head torch on .Made another cuppa and got into my bag.
Oh 20 miles I’m impressed with that and it was a hard 20 too
miles to go 414