We hit 300 miles!!!! Wow, what an accomplishment! It feels unreal. To say I’ve walked, hiked, 300 miles…it’s a pretty crazy feeling. Today we hiked a total of 14.5 miles. We took it easy and enjoyed several breaks throughout the day. My boyfriend woke up to a flat sleeping pad. The second sleeping pad to get a hole in it since we started our hike. We were off to a late start since he had to patch the hole. The late start really worried me because I was afraid we would get into camp at almost dark, but the terrain was a nice change of pace….a lot of rocks but not extremely steep. Tomorrow we hike 8 miles to meet a nice couple that follows us on YouTube. They are going to pick us up and let us stay in their home for the night. It’s unbelievable how kind people are. We would not be able to get through this without the wonderful trail angels.
We hiked 8 miles into Sam’s Gap where our trail angels, Tom and Lunda picked us up. They were amazing hosts and made us feel right at home. We ate delicious food and relaxed the rest of the day. I am still in complete awe of the kindness we have been shown on the trail by complete strangers. The community is what makes the Appalachian Trail. As I was falling asleep in my comfy bed, I looked over on the nightstand and saw this bible verse…”In everything give thanks.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18a. I am so thankful for the past 32 days. All of it.
After a yummy breakfast, Tom and Lunda dropped us back off at the trail. It was extremely hot but the views and nice trail completely made up for it. I think we’ve decided to get on the trail earlier each day and take a long lunch in order to avoid the hottest time of the day. That might mean hiking longer in the evening but that would be ok as long as we could get out of the heat for a while. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but our Zpacks Triplex tent leaked during a rainstorm in the Smokies. We posted a video about it on our YouTube and one of our subscribers tweeted the video to Zpacks. The company then reached out and will be sending a new tent. This will be our 4th Zpacks tent in less than 6 months so I really hope this one holds up.
I can not make this stuff up. We were supposed to meet Tom and Lunda in Erwin on day 35 around noon to pick up our resupply. We got to our campsite a lot earlier than expected so we called our trail angels to see if they could meet us any earlier the next morning. They said sure but instead had a better plan. Why don’t we finish up the remaining 3 miles to Erwin, they would pick us up and take us back to their house for the night. Ummm yeah!!! That sounded like an amazing idea!!! We were so excited. We were like children waiting for their parents after school. They scooped us and informed us that they packaged our next 2 resupplies and would drop them off at hostels up the road. I can’t say enough about these people. So kind, so thoughtful, so gracious. I really hope one day we can do something special for them.
We were dropped off at the trail head around 8a. The hike from Erwin to our campsite, just past Beauty Spot, was wonderful. Despite the trail mostly being uphill, we had a great time today. It did downpour on us during lunch but what’s a thru hike without rain? We set up camp early to dry some of our gear out and started preparing for a long day of ups and downs beginning first thing tomorrow morning with Unaka Mountain.
Unaka Mountain is probably one of my favorite mountains that we’ve climbed on the AT. The evergreen forests on the summit and the rhododendrons that scaled the side of the mountain were absolutely beautiful. Not to mention the climb was very pleasant with several switchbacks. The rest of the day went well until the sky decided to dump on us for a few miles. Thankfully Mother Nature decided to cut us a break and the sky cleared up just as we arrived at camp. After a 16 mile day, I am exhausted. Hoping to get some good sleep so we can tackle Roan Mountain in the morning.
I wanted to get on trail by 7:30 because I knew rain was in the forecast once again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to get my boyfriend moving this morning so we left 45 minutes later. Roan Mountain was beautiful. Very hard but beautiful. The balds following were just as stunning but we were in a time crunch, racing to get to camp before the rain began at 2. We did make it to camp at Overmountain Shelter just before the sky dumped on us. Literally just set up the tent and threw all of our gear in. Tomorrow we have a 9 mile day into Roan Mountain, TN where we will stay at Mountain Harbour Hostel. I can’t wait to take a shower. I stink! …..but more importantly, my boyfriend’s feet stench has taken over our tent.
It was a trying day on the AT. After storming all night, dealing with a leaking tent and waking up to pouring rain, I was not in the mood to hike. But I embraced the suck and braved the rain for 9 miles to Mountain Harbour Hostel. Shortly after we arrived, I inhaled a ginormous cheeseburger and fries. All was well again. I realized my IT band has not bothered me at all today and the hike included a 5 mile descent with rocks and roots galore. I’m pretty excited about that and I’m hoping this is a good sign that my body is adjusting to the stress.
Mountain Harbor was nice for a quick dry out and re-coop. The employees were really friendly and the food was awesome. It’s also very convenient to the trail since it is only .2 miles away. That’s if you are starting at Highway 19E. The hike today was pretty easygoing. No big ups or downs, it’s just hard to get going after a stay in town. We started hiking around 10:30a and still put in a 13 mile day. I’m pretty happy with that. Two nights ago, it stormed during the night and our tent leaked again, soaking my sleeping bag. Luckily, Zpacks sent us a new tent and it was waiting for us when we got to the hostel yesterday. It seems to be better quality but I suppose the real test will be during a rainstorm.
It was a big day for us…17.7 miles to be exact. It’s insane to think that your body is capable of hiking 17 miles in one day but it is and much more! I am so thankful that my IT band isn’t giving me issues anymore. The pain is there but it’s not the intense pain I once felt with every step. We were interviewed by Jimmy, a well known face along the AT that shares hikers stories on his YouTube. He is such a nice guy and it was a pleasure talking with him for a bit. Tomorrow we have a short 3 mile downhill hike to Boots Off Hostel to pick up our resupply boxes. We aren’t sure if we will tent or get a room. All I want is a shower and to pluck my eyebrows. Yes, this girl will continue plucking her eyebrows all the way to Katahdin.
We neroed into Boots Off Hostel to pick up our resupply, shower and laundry. The hostel is very laid back. We decided to tent there for $24 instead of staying in the bunkhouse or a cabin. Laundry is $5 a load and they do it for you. I LOVE when hostels do the laundry for you. It is such a time saver and one less chore you have to worry about. We have 3 days to Damascus. I’ve heard the next section is supposed to be really nice and easier than what we’ve been there. We’ll see about that.
We were the first hikers to leave the hostel this morning to get on trail. We have about 43 miles to Damascus and heard the forbidden R word is in the forecast so we’re knocking off what we can. I actually listened to music today and wow, what a difference! I mean, think about it. Hiking day after day does get boring and I’m so glad I was able to spice it up today with some tunes! I’m sure some days I will want to listen to the birds, trees and other calming sounds in the woods…actually I probably won’t have a choice because I know I won’t have service all the time. But in the meantime, I’m going to mix it up. We hiked 16 miles today and are planning another early start tomorrow. Oh and my shoes are starting to talk so hopefully the outfitter in Damascus sells Altra’s.
My feet feel like cinder blocks but today was amazing! We hiked 18 miles through green woods, blooming fields and cow pastures. We walked so close to the cows that I was afraid they would get startled, but to my surprise they could’ve cared less! It didn’t rain which I am thankful for but I’m pretty sure some weather is moving in so tomorrow may be a wet one. That’s ok…only 8 miles into Damascus for a nero. I hope they have a Mexican restaurant.