The Appalachian Trail: Day 23

April 21, 2017

Woo! I feel great! Today was a little rocky (figuratively and literally) but that’s life on the trail. It started out nice enough, though it seems that everyday starts and ends with a climb, and I had to stop before long to apply some sunscreen. Of course, as soon as I did, clouds started to darken the sky. There were some interesting plant life but, more interestingly, there were more gravestones and this memorial.

The clouds kept coming and going throughout the day. Big Bald mountain was next with Small Bald right behind it. There were some Trail Magic Powerades in between.We came across a gap where you could see the mountains of Tennessee from the NC border. Soon after, we ran into a couple who are flip-flopping (hiking from mid to south then north to mid) with their one year old. An amazing and difficult task, I imagine.

We stopped for lunch at Big Bald Shelter where a group of hikers were waiting for a few stragglers who may or may not have Norovirus. It was 10 miles, mostly downhill, to our intended shelter site. We made it 4.4 miles in just over an hour before the rain hit. We actually had to pull off under a rock cliff for a bit while it was really pouring!

5 miles from our shelter, we ran into the best Trail Magic so far! Fella by the name of Badger (thru-hike class of ’16) had set up some tents and was grilling burgers, veggie-burgers, and hotdogs. They had snacks, fruit, desserts, Subway sandwiches, and tons of juice and sodas (with beer for the drinkers). DustBuster went on ahead after a few snacks and I waited on a deliciously fresh burger.

I met and talked with a few hikers, some I had met and others I was meeting for the first time. I find myself much more social out here. I’m usual​ly pretty shy when meeting new people but with other hikers, it’s sort of like we share something. No matter where we’re from or what we do, we at least have the trail in common. It has a way of cutting through you to get to your baser side. Your core… Now, here’s a picture of a bunch of hikers doing the Hike Pokey around a camp fire to dry their feet!

I finally made it to the shelter at 6:40 to hang with this new bunch of rock stars and got set up and fed before the rain started again. We hiked 23 miles today and we’re planning on 6 tomorrow into Erwin, TN. Weather looks iffy but we plan on hurrying and with 3 20’s in a row under our belt now, we can accomplish anything!

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