Day 8 Plum Orchard Shelter To Standing Indian Shelter

I woke up with pains in my left knee.. that’s not good I thought. I got out of bed and fired up my stove and began to pack, I am still to get proficient, but after two breakfast bars I was ready to go or was I. I decided to put on my knee brace, it  made my knees feel a little better but  they were still very painful as i limped out of camp.
Snail this does not feel good. !!!
I hobbled down the trail and began my  first few climbs I was walking like a grandpa.
I  stopped and took more ibuprofen before setting off again. Luckily the trail was smooth and down, but I wasn’t really making the most of it.
Maybe I did too much yesterday and with those hills I have hurt my knees especially the left one.
I limped on and on cursing myself i was in so much pain  . I may need to get off trail  and rest I had planned on Franklin in 2 more days but it may be wise to head there sooner to rest my knee.
I had planned a  reasonable mileage , but i will be lucky if i can complete  12 miles
Down the trail I limped I will take more breaks I promised myself. up ahead several hikers were standing. I wondered what they were doing  until i saw the sign

Welcome to North Carolina.

Whoop Whoop I had competed 1 state. 18 more to go .
I moved on and welcome to North Carolina meant a bloody big mountain.
OMG  it was steep and i  struggled to climb it, as i had to  be careful of my knees as they were so tender. up and up this climb went.
It was one of those climbs  with a false summit, which  means  you cant see the top, but  once you are up  you can see  there is even more to climb arrhhh. And then after that there was another omg . I’m knackered. At last the trail began to level out before it was time for the decent .I walked for about another hour then took a break.
I had several hot spots so taped my toes and stuck some moleskin to the bottom of my sole , Glugged down some  water then set off, the trail had suddenly become busy.
Bumble Bee and a host of other hikers began to pass me
I wasn’t chasing,  just plodding looking after my  painful knees. The  trail was another roller-coaster  up and down up and down.I passed by another shelter but it was too early soon to stop. Then I met a man who gave me advice about stretching. I will  do as he advised. but at the moment I just hurt.
Considering my knees I think I was doing okay. but then the trail turned into crappy gnarly rock once again, and again I struggled to navigate over it arrrh. in some places it was small little climbs Arrrh. I was miles away when one of the British girls came by.
Much further she asked?.
I said it’s about 3 miles a lot more down , past the parking then a mile up.
I tracked her for a while as I liked her pace. but then the trail was tricky again .then her friend passed me, making me jump as she was so quite
I could now see the car park thorough the trees,  so not far to go.

A man called Creature was waiting here , he is helping his son hike and offered to take my trash.
Thank you so much i said , he also gave me half of his iced tea..yummy.
Time for the final climb which was approximately  a mile up so about an an other hour to go, But it was hot and  so I kept stopping to drink water .

At last the shelter came into sight. I quickly found a site for my tent and it was up.
I next went and got water and washed myself down in the river as I was smelly. I really hummed.!!
I walked back to my tent made tea then made supper. Bollocks I think I have miscalculated as I am a meal short for tomorrow. oh well I will ask  someone tomorrow if they have a spare.
I ate tortillas with tuna that was really tasty. then the remainder I mixed with my dinner. yum.
This shelter did not have a box or bear lines    so it was time to hang my food bag  from the bears. But at this spot it was scare  of suitable  trees . so  20 minutes later it was in the tree.

I retreated to my tent and made hot chocolate and then to bed.
I hope my knees  are  better tomorrow, or I  may have to hitch  into town. although I would like to reach the 100 mile marker

night

Start 73.5
Finish 85.7
mileage 12.2
Remaining 2105.2

Day 7 Tray Mountain to Plum Orchard Shelter 15.5 miles

Thank you Jess for the sleeping pills and with my earplugs I slept so well.
It was a freezing morning so I quickly visited the privy before scuttling back to my tent. I began to pack and made tea. I woofed 2 breakfast bars then dropped my tent. it was still very quite at this end of the camp site.

I was wearing my rain jacket and two other layers as I headed out and for a change I was decending . As  as soon as I got out of the wind it was hot, Phew it was hot and it was still early ,but as I had just started I did not want to stop again . For the first hour it was small hills and then I climbed another monster, so  it was all ahead slow. i chugged up and up oh my god this is brutal. well brutal for a fat, unfit, 57 year-old. on and on it went. At last I made it to the top, slurped  a big mouthful of lemonade and set off down the other side. typical steep.rocky and slippery I decended  for about an hour. so expected  another big climb next . Sure enough  i was soon climbing again and  it was now  hot, roasting in fact . I stopped to take off my rain jacket and woolly hat . should I remove my shirt?..i will leave it for now.
I popped a Jolly Rancher into my mouth and pushed on .Jolly Ranchers are american boiled sweets and i just love them.

The trail was being kind and I was in one of the green corridors that  seem to go on forever ,I’m sure that they are lovely when in bloom. but  in this state  thety are more of a prison .I  pounded along looking at my watch, i had been hiking for 4 hours and needed a break.
At last i spied a nice spot,  dropped my pack and then lay down my tyvek .
I lay on my Tyvek and  relaxed taking  off my shoes and socks . I ate a few snacks and then devoured the apple that i had  been carrying it was delicious. .
After  30 minutes  break I was back on trail.

I knew  it was going to be a tough afternoon as there were several more big climbs  I plodded on and on and up , why are these climbs so steep and so long .
It was no good I needed another break, i stopped and chugged 1/2 litre of  lemonade straight down. These climbs really sapped my energy.

4 miles to go………
2 miles to go

Thank God I’m here. or rather the sign post.. as the shelter is a fairway off trail. but I was here. The 2 nurses from the last shelter were also here..Cheats lol.
The shelter here was very nice  it was vast a three story affair and  it  had the luxury  of several large bear boxes to store our food  so  no hanging required
I quickly put up my tent made tea and the relaxed, in the  late  sun

Start  58.3
Finish 73.5
Miles 15.2

Video Blog

Day 6 From Low gap Shelter to Tray Mountain

Day 6
This was my first night in a shelter and it because of the pouring rain.
We all may out our mats and bags and only we were all in bed by 6.30 yes really.
I had heard bad stories about these shelters being infested with rats and mice..Nice
So I snuggled deep down inside my bed and pulled my hat over my ears.
It took me ages to go off as Mike on my left fidgeted for most of the night (and shivered) or was snoring in my ear.
But eventually it was morning and cold, very cold.
I was slow to move and totally unorganised, but soon tea was being made and I munched a couple of power bars.
Mike was the first to leave, he was hoping to get off at the first road get to town get some proper gear  then  get back on trail
Mike is a lovely man but has come on this trail I’ll prepared especially  these days as there is a plethora of information on the web.
His food, when he started was a bag of rice, plain simple rice, not precooked, or boil in the bag. Just  rice and a few energy bars.
His gear, well his clothing left a lot to be desired, Cotton shirts which are a complete no no as your freeze.The list goes on but we are all trying to help him.
So hopefully he will reappear with some warm and waterproof clothes.
So today was cold, but would hopefully warm up as  I do not  want to be as cold as I was yesterday.
I started in my shorts, my thermal shirt, rain jacket and woolly hat.
I was just leaving when  I noticed Mike had left his pot. Jess offered to carry it as we may catch him. Jess was  not impressed  when she  found  that  mike had left all his burnt food in the pot.
I was first out and on trail by 9 waving to the others as I left.
The trail looked  magical as it was covered in a light dusting of snow.
The trail was good and so i was making good progress  and so it wasn’t  long until I had to stop to remove a layer. I was just about to restart  when  Jess caught me. We traded miles for most of the morning until the trail once again turned to rock.I just can’t walk over it, I’m not as sure-footed so Jess was soon away  in the distance.
I pushed  on and then the trail began to descend , but it was steep and  slippery and so I was dead slow until the trail became good again allowing me to put in some pace.
Further along I came to a sign in the dirt i’m guessing it was made by the crew who left late last night hoping to get to a road.
The sign said sorry no road, I laughed to myself and pushed on .
 I  then recognised someone ahead , it was Mike limping and going very slow.
“Did  Jess give you your  pot” I asked?
Yer she had.
I passed  him and pushed on,  while it was flat i  wanted the miles , Eventually I could hear  traffic  that meant a road. I think this was where Mike was heading
As I  made my way down I could see some gazebos and people milling around.
Whoop Whoop it’s Trail magic.
A local church had organised food for us hikers.
I was welcomed in . I quickly dropped my pack as  2 hot-dogs were thrust at me.
“What else would i like “? i was asked on numerous  occasions ,
“Coke Gatorade. ?
“Water. Want a burger?
“Please Sit down rest.
“Where am I from?
“Am I going all the way.?
“Do I have faith.?
“Can we Pray  for you. ?  Why of course as i need all the help that i can get
“Another Gatorade. Apple? Crisps”
 I was overwhelmed but so so grateful.
After about  20  minutes  i dragged myself away  knowing that i  had  another large  climb to tackle .
The climb began gradually , but soon became steep. I caught  Jess who stood aside to let me pas . It was steep and cold as i slowly chugged up   the mountain
At last i was at  the top,  Typically it was straight down. The down was gnarly allowing Jess to  quickly catch me again . 
That last hill took  40 mins and there was one more to do, that  soon arrived  after another 40 mins I was hoping  i would be at the top
I passed  “Tray Gap”  Where is the bloody shelter , I pushed on, the  trail getting steeper and  steeper as the  temperature  began to drop .
It was almost two hours before I reached the top, I was knackered and  very very cold, too cold.
I grabbed a Lara bar, it was hard to chew as it was frozen and the water in my bladder was also frozen like me .
At last a sign for the shelter, I followed it  and yes there it was  but i wanted to camp  so i walked past the shelter and looked for somewhere for my tent.
I was frozen and so my fingers wouldn’t work and so it took me  longer to get my tent up . Once up i threw everything inside. before  realising  I was on a slope bugger, But it will do .
I was so cold and so immediately put on more layers before getting into my bag. I lay there for about an hour until I was warm. But I was still too cold to go outside so cooked in my tent.
So night all

Start 42
Finish 58
mileage 16 

Video Blog

Day 5 Neels Gap to Low Gap Shelter

Day 5
I didn’t sleep that well due to the sound of the air con so dozed for most of the night. The lights flicked on at 7.30 so I slumped out of bed.
The weather didn’t look good as I peered out of the window, In fact it was chucking it down and it was windy.
I packed up and then made tea using the microwave.
Can’t beat a cuppa, the next stop was the shop for a breakfast roll. Its crap but oh so
tasty.
OKAY I am out of here. I hoisted up my pack and entered the element I was just wearing a vest and my rain jacket, as I didn’t want get too hot.
I crossed through the archway to the trail and headed up.
I had my cap on under my rain jacket but I couldn’t see where I was going due to the peak so had to remove the hood. I marched on , the rain not bothering me .
I was doing well as I climbed until the wind came.
Omg it cut right through me, I think I have made a mistake by not wearing another layer. I pushed on worrying about my body temperature . and trying to avoid the wind .
I was soon caught by the hikers I was chatting to yesterday, Beth & Dan and one other. I followed them for a while ,leapfrogging each other for most of the morning.
It was 11 miles to the next shelter a bit optimistic but that was my target, And I was trying to do it nonstop. Well it was pointless stopping in this weather !
I pushed on and on through the fog and rain. At last the wind died, Thank God.
The trail was typically poor littered with rocks and roots all trying to bring you down and so I was unable to get much of a pace. The trail then turned to more slabs of granite. I haven’t yet got the confidence in my feet that they would stick on this surface . If I was a goat, I would be okay .
I plodded away, listening to my watch ping the hours away
Then I came to Tennessee Gap. Oh, my fucking God …it was steep, Bloody steep I limped up losing site of my friends . I just kept on climbing and climbing surely it must stop.
At last I’m heading down but it’s gnarly and I scared or turning an ankle. so, I’m going slow . How much further?
I’m going nonstop, as there is no point stopping for a break in the rain .
Come on snail, I pushed on and another climb . I am sure that there were fantastic views but all I could see was rain and fog.
Suddenly the rain stopped and the forest became very calm and quiet and then the birds began to sing making me smile .
I marched on passing a few tents, then I passed a discarded tarp that looked brand new !!.
I was making good time but was tired until the rain returned. Bugger, I pushed on and on I must be getting near.
At last a sign for camp, I set off down the side trail hoping that I had read it right.
Hikers whooped me in as I arrived at the shelter. It looked quite full .This shelter had room for 12 people and there were12 of us sheltering from the rain. But 4 were moving on. (mad people)
I found myself a corner and unpacked my gear for the shelter and then changed into dry warm clothes , ah that’s much better, although it still took about another hour until the feeling returned to my fingers. I cooked tea and drank hot chocolate. Dan and Beth decided to camp , as they felt that they slept better.
Big mike was here he looked frozen as he hadn’t any real proper hiking gear. His rain jacket was a cheapo from Walmart and it was crap. Mike was a lovely person but very Naive and ill-prepared . He attempted to cook dinner and I had to look away as he made a complete hash of it .
once we were all done, we lay out our pads and bags, but before bed it was time to hang my food bag. At this shelter there were Bear cables which make hanging so much easier.
Its only just gone six but it’s time for bed .
mike lay beside me and due to the por quality of his kit he spent most of the night shivering !!
Night all

Start  42.6
Finish 58.3
Miles 15.7

Day 4 Heading to Neels gap.

Day 4
I slept fairy well waking at 7 am as I emerged from my tent  i  could make out more tents   through the fog.
I headed for the bathroom ( the big tree), after I retrieved  my food bag from the tree, I  put on my stove to make tea.
I packed up and dropped my tent,  drank my tea and ate a power bar.
I was ready, It was almost 8 am  ,I  hoisted my pack and set off  through the Fog.
There were 3 tents remaining as i headed out.
I hadn’t gone far when I needed to stop as there was something in my shoe.
Then I had to stop again as I was cooking in my fleece. Okay snail let’s try again.
I gingerly made my way  along  the trail, although the trail headed  down it was littered with rocks.
I was going to film more but I was  too tired . Maybe too much sun yesterday or too many miles?
The trail  eventually  changed to what I like, enabling me to push. I popped a jolly rancher into my mouth i love these boiled sweets as they are quite quenching. T
The trail this morning was as a bit of a roller coaster.but  i was making good progress  and  soon arrived at  Woody Gap and there were trash cans . I dumped my rubbish and a few other items  to lighten my load as Blood mountain is coming up and i am dreading the climb.

As I crossed through the parking lot i  could see  the team of 4 hikers who i had been leap frogging. I waved and continued on.
The trail started gentle but then quickly  began to get steep  and so my normal puffing and panting  began , as I climbed.
This place seemed really popular as many day hikers were coming the other way.
As the trail climbed higher, i had to keep pausing to sip water and to catch my breath. Finally I was at the summit and the trail began to decent. I passed John who was resting but  he would  soon catch  me. We hiked together for a while until we came to water.
I topped up and was on my way as the team of four appeared. The trail from here was nice, a lovely sandy surface I followed the 4 for a while until the trail began to climb once more
The next hour was up and down, fast and slow, ping went my watch informing me that I had been hiking for 3 hours so decided to stop for lunch. I was still carrying far too much food …Why! Well I was going to hike slower so would require more food.
I ate tortillas with tuna I don’t really flour tortilla , but its food. I rested for a while before setting  off  towards the dreaded Blood Mountain. There were a couple of large ups and downs then it was the climb. I set off up on my slow stomp chugging  slowly up.
Many hikers were coming down as it’s a big tourist spot, as they passed by  several said  “your almost there” and every single one was a bloody liar ha ha
At last the Blood mountain shelter appeared which confused me , had I done it !!
Yes indeed I had and it wasn’t as bad as people had said.  It was now  downhill to Neels gap.
But the first descent was down over large slabs of granite. I so glad it wasn’t raining as this would be suicide and it wasn’t  easy in the dry . Slow was safe, eventually it evened out and I began to stride but then it turned into  a quarry. It was more for goats than hikers it was bloody awful. And still  it was busy with tourists, other hikers and dogs.
I  joined up with three other hikers as we began to stride down the mountain  to Neels gap.
As we began to descend i could at last see it . I crossed the road  and stared at a tree that was  full of boots !! It appears to be a custom. I made my way to the shop fingers crossed that there may be room in the bunk house
Dam  No it was full, so i would be  camping outside.

Then big Mike (white-rice)  appeared and offered me his bunk.
Cheers Mike , I grabbed a cherry coke and made my way to the Bunk house.
Mikes  original spot was a top bunk, that will do nicely . I organised my stuff, dumped some gear that I didn’t need . then took a shower . Oh the hot  water felt so good.. Whilst in the shower I  washed my socks pants and top, then hung them outside to dry.
I did a small re-supply (pricey) and a berry soda that was really tasty.
I checked my maps and sorted through my  gear once more , as  i sat  outside  i chatted to  other hikers , before  ordering  a pizza.
It was so tasty but I couldn’t eat it all so gave it to other hikers.
I sat outside chatting for a while before the bugs forced me inside .

Start 18.9
Finish 31.1
Miles 12.2

Day 3 Hawks campsite to Hooch.

Hawks campsite to hooch.

I woke about 3am but didnt emerged from my tent until 7 .30.  I visited the privy left a donation. I then removed my food from the bear box and headed back to my tent.

I put my stove together and put water on to boil .  I was so looking forward to my first  cuppa of the day to  revive  my aching body

As I broke camp. Mike (sandles) was already packed but Joe next door was still sleeping. I made tea, that tasted so good. As I sat drinking my tea, the  German man came past we chatted for a while then I finished packing, but  then decided to make another brew. Joe finally emerged and offered me some sun block Thanks Joe.

At last I am away and shortly join the trail .I march on but the trail is gnarly and  crap.
I  am unable  to  get  any  rhythm  so  walk  slowly . it’s  seems to  take forever until I reach the turn to Hawk shelter, the one we should have stayed at  yesterday if only we could  read !!.

I pushed on catching  and passing several hikers , always a good sign . At last the rocky trail  stopped and  normal hiking could  begin, but sadly  not for long. The trail began to climb  and  it was a steep climb up that was quickly followed by a steep and this was repeated several  times .The ups getting steeper but the downs were worse as they killed my knees

I eventually caught up with  Jonathan, he had stayed at the shelter, but every body  had  camped due to the numerous mice that lived there !!

At last a nice part of trail enabling me to get a bit of speed up. This enabled me  to  at last  take some video.
As i began  to descend into a gap  i could see the German man and Jonathan . were there we said our hellos then I pushed on and up.

God the ups were steep and Ialmost ground to an  halt. I chugged down some lemonade and shuffled on and up puffing and panting. It was hot very hot and no shade.
A group of 4 hikers zipped past me past me and disappeared into the distance. whixh  is always  depressing . I pushed on, at  last  the trail be gan to level  out and  i  could increase my spped once again

As i walked i began to hear water  to  my right  and  began to drop  down through the tres   and eventually arrived  at  the  banks  of the watert. The four Hikers  that  had passed me , were just moving on after filling up with water . I crossed the river and dropped my pack, took off my shoes and socks before soaking my  feet into the cool waters. it  was heven.

I filled up and was resting when several other hikers appeared. they were heading for goo xxx. another 4 miles.

I pondered for few minutes before  deciding that  I too could make that . I hoisted my pack and strolled off down the trail. I passed the camp  at mile 8 that  was my original target for te day  and kept going.. I hope this isn’t a mistake I muttered to myself.!

God it was hot as I pounded down the trail, I slurped my water, but  it  was  no good I needed to stop again as it was  roasting. i topped up my water and washed my face.
I now had plenty of water ,but was  beginning to run out of energy.
Flat spot with a tree  thats what i now need !! At last, this  will do  its a bit  exposed  on a  mountain but i am done . I put up my tent and collapsed. I’m done

The view . from my tent .
Okay ,my next chore was to hoist my food or hang my food.
I had practiced this a few times  in the  uk ,
But  when i came to doing iot for real  i  was utterly crap.
Finally try  23  i  got  the rope over  the  bloody  tree and wa sable  to  hang  my food bag
I quickly scoffed  my  supper and  straight to bed  ZZZZZ

Start 7.4
Finish 18.9
Miles 11.5

Video Blog

Day 2 Heading to Hawk Mountain Shelter

I slept fairly well even though there were some heavy snores in the camp site.

I woke around 7 am and could hear the chatter of other  hikers. it’s no good I need to join them so emerged from my tent to another glorious day.
I visited the loo which I had been putting off as it’s not the nicest of places,  job done so then I went and made tea that certainly revived me. Breakfast was a couple of power bars that I greedily ate.
I began to break camp, it will take me a few weeks to get it slick as I need to be faster especially with wet weather..

OKAY all done, let’s go. I hoisted my pack  and felt the tinge of pain as my back accepted the weight, then I was off and on the Trail by 9am.
After  the briefing  we were advised not to expect big  miles and  to take it easy  for  several weeks and so I do not need the early starts yet.!!

The trail was going to be mostly down today but finishing with an up .
The first part of the trail was awful, strewn with rocks and slabs of granite so slow was safe so that you didn’t trip or fall. I shortly caught big Mike there were about 5 Mike’s in camp last night. I past him and carried on .
At last the Trail became walk able and I was able to increase  increased my speed, this part of the trail was beautiful and oh so peaceful. As I hiked on , the trail passed through a lush green tunnel and I could hear the sound of water cascading below, now and then I caught sight of  the water as it tumbled over rocks. Water seems very plentiful on this trail (so far) so I am probably carrying too much, but I would rather not stop to keep filling up.

The trail  was still heading down which I like but i  knew  it ended with a large up!!
I decided to hike for 2 hours then have lunch something I did not do yesterday.
I kept glancing at my watch untill my  watch pinged , great lunch time. I dropped my pack took off my shoes and relaxed.
I ate tortillas with cheese and ham washed down with lemonade, an apple or orange would have been perfect but i hadn’t packed  any  heavy fruit out

I added lemonade to my water which I had been meaning to do for a while .
I took a longish break until a German hiker similar to me came past we chatted for a while comparing kit then he was gone.I will have 5 more minutes .

I decided to remove my shirt as its so hot. I really needed some sun cream but I hadnt packed any  . I put on my shoes, hoisted my pack and began to walk. My hips hurt and I had a stitch but I walked on.  I had walked  4 miles so 4 more to go much better than yesterday although my body was complaining and the sweat dripped into my eyes stinging them , but i still plodded on .

I can’t do hills my body just sulks, and my pace drops but once on the flat I race to make up the time.
Mike then passed me, this Mike is hiking in flip flops respect to him. I follow him for a while until the next hill where he pulls away , but then I catch him  up on the straight. The mad fool then decides to try barefoot. Big mistake!!. as  the  trail becomes    full of  jagged rocks   so i easily pass him. I am cruising down the trail until my right foot begins to get hot.Bugger I need to stop and address it as   i  do not want to get  a blister.
Oh a sign,  campsite and water. another hiker appears and we confirm this is the target for today. We set off on this side trail  passing a bear box and a privy with tent pads. we seem to be descending too far.. Guys am I wrong ?

Yes this is not the shelter, but just a campsite but I need water so  I continue on until I reach the stream were I fill up . It’s a long way back to the trail and so I decide to camp just past the privy with the bear box and almost back to the trail

I choose spot no 7 and my tent is soon up.
i get out my solar panel and plug in my phone making the most of the sun.
I lie in the sun for a bit then worry about getting burnt so slink back into my tent .
I must have nodded off. as  when i emerged it was 4 pm. Time  for  tea although its a  bit early. but I am parched.
How amazing is tea  and i am soon revived  and refreshed  and  i had had a better  day. r okay supper, I go for a Idaho mash. not my favourite but it’s a change. I add a few splashes of chilli sauce and bacon bits and soon my pot is empty.
it’s still far too early so I make hot chocolate that  i quickly drink  as it tastes so good  that’s so good
Its  far  too early  so i decide to take another nap  in my tent.
When i awake i try to get organised, I sort out my gear , try and get  some sort of routine  before relaxing
night all

Start
Finish
milage 8 Miles

Video Blog

Day 1 heading for springer

April 12th

I woke up early full of anticipation. Checked my gear then went to checkout
I was feeling nervous as I  waited for my ride.
A car pulled  up and  the driver called out my name ,  Jez  was my driver and  his 5 year  daughter was accompanying  us
It was a 40 min ride to Amacolla fails. and my  driver was very informative and very helpful.
Wow  we  are  here   we drove  through  the park entrance  pausing for me to  take a few photos. Then Jez parked up. I paid  him and retrieved my  heavy  pack. At the entrance  was a set of scales   and  so  i weighed my pack. Omg 54 lb that’s far too heavy I need to get that lighter. and fast !!
I made my way to the Rangers office to register , there were about a dozen fresh new faces   all excited  to  be here too.  We all had to listen to  a  safety briefing , It was very informative ,I didn’t get  this on the PCT
After our briefing we made our way  out and towards  the  trail entrance  . The ranger took our photos  outside the arch , then it was time to walk , I walked  through and arch  and  headed for the trail. This is the approach trail a 7.5 miles trail that joins the AT.

I was dreading this as there are 700 steps to climb first. Omg my age my fitness the sun my pack. It took me 30 minutes until at last I was at the top , hurrah what amazing views.
Well I thought the steps were going to be tough but OMG, this approach trail really kicked my arse. The terrain  was so gnarly and steep that I struggled to get any pace at all.
I sucked on my water house , yummy I love the taste of rubber nice!!. I pushed on and up but my feet didnt appear to be moving, God this is a killer….
It’s no good I need to stop . I dropped my pack laid out my Tyvek and collapsed into it, ‘removed my shoes and socks to air my feet and enjoyed the rest.
OKAY let’s go, I hoisted up my pack and plodded up the trail, the hours were passing but sadly not the miles. The ups were mighty, sapping my strength.
I kept stopping, pausing for breadth , God I am so unfit!!.
This is a killer, I pushed on but after another  hour i  needed to take another break
Pack off ,Tyvek down, shoes and socks off. I  took  another 30 minutes  break before renewing the climb. At 4.30 I reached Springer mountain that is the official start of the Appalachian Trail
It has  taken me 7 hrs to hike 8 miles that’s poor , or rather the terrain is steep, or maybe I am just not as fit as I thought !!

I took the obligatory photo of the Appalachian trail plaque before heading  to the camp site.
There were  about a dozen tents scattered around the shelter, I quickly chose a spot and put my new shiny tent up, dumped my kit inside  and then went in search of water.
Time for tea, I brewed up then cooked pasta which tasted so good
I sat around the table with other hikers joking and telling tales until  my bed began calling to me
good night

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