Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 29- Gator Nation

Big Bald Shelter(326.1) to Undesignated Camp Spot(339.8) 13.7 

Before I tell everyone about my day I'd like to wish my Mom, Jeanette Fleming, a very Happy Birthday!!! Since I'm on the trail and she's on an epic cruise we weren't able to talk on the phone. I know she always reads my blog though. 
She loves dogwood trees and since they are blooming I took a picture for her. 

Now on to my day. As I mentioned yesterday, I kept my mileage slightly under normal for two reasons. I needed to break in the new shoes and I didn't want to get into town late in the day. I'm currently camped 3 miles from Erwin, TN and I'm super excited to have a full town day without taking a zero. A few other hikers are planning on seeing the new Avengers movie, but I haven't decided if I'll join them. I usually have too many other chores to do in town that I'm not sure that's the best use of my time. 
So far the shoes are working out ok. The pain in my big toe had been getting progressively worse, today wasn't any better, but it also wasn't worse. I'll take that as a win. I've also been having a bit of pain in my right knee on the downhills. I tried slowing down today and that also seemed to help. 

I was able to sleep in and take my time in camp this morning since I wasn't pushing for big miles and the terrain was pretty easy. That was a very nice change. Usually, I get up break camp and hit the trail, eating a pop tart as I go. Bon Bon, Mcgyver, Gadget Man, Stripes, and I chatted and had a leisurely morning. Today was also Bon Bon's birthday. She was one of 3 hikers at the shelter last night from Florida. I'm camped with the other 2, Dino and Seashell again tonight. 
As we left the shelter this morning everybody spread out. It's a weird feeling knowing their are other people right around you, but also feeling like you have the woods to yourself. Anytime you stop for a minute a hiker will usually pass you. 
I stop and take a lot of pictures so I usually flip flip with one or two other hikers all day. Today was a much larger group of hikers in the same area. 

View after first climb leaving the shelter

After hiking for 7 miles I came into Spivey Gap and had a wonderful surprise, Trail Magic. This was no ordinary magic though, it was Gator Trail Magic. 
Shanna and MinD

It seems the Gator Nation is alive and well along the Appalachian Trail. Seashell, Dino, and Bon Bon are all gator fans as well. MinD supplied us with Brownies, pineapples, blueberries, mangos, string cheese, and cold cokes. It was fantastic. Thanks again and it was so great to meet you. 

After such a nice treat the next 3 miles just flew by. I stopped and filtered water and then had a late lunch at a shelter. I was able to relax and take my shoes off for a little bit. I had a few hot spots on my heal and big toe, so I took the time to deal with that. I use a combination of leukotape and body glide for feet. I read somewhere that's what the Navy Seals use during hell week. If it's good enough for them it's good enough for me. After 340 miles I still haven't had a blister! 
At the shelter I met back up with Mcgyver, Seashell, and Dino. We hiked in close proximity for the next 3 miles. Just as Mcgyver and I got to our destination it started to rain with very high winds. I had just enough time to pitch my tarp and hunker down beneath it. Luckily it only last 10 or 20 minutes. After it passed I set up my hammock and started my dinner. I'm looking forward to my resupply tomorrow. I'm pretty darn tired of trail pad Thai and mash potatoes with various meat products. I've got a few new ideas for meals and I'm hoping to find everything I need in town. 

Sorry for the lack of pictures today. There just wasn't much to see since it was mainly downhill all day. 
Creative Stream Crossing Bridge

"Happiness is only real when shared"- Christopher McCandless 


  1. The first picture you posted today with the tree in the foreground is awesome - glad to see that blue sky! Super impressed that you've not had any blisters! You Go Girl!

  2. Do you have a "guesstimate" of when you'll be in Conn.? How far in do most Trail Magic providers have to typically hike?

    1. Right now I estimate the second to fourth week of July. Trail magic is usually at a road the trail intersects. No hiking necessary. Are you thinking of doing a road trip?

    2. Hey, Arlene, wanna do a road trip? 😉

  3. It was great being able to provide a little magic to all of you yesterday. We ended up meeting and treating 28 hikers in 4 hours! I thought of you and the others when that storm rolled in. Glad it didn't last long. Have fun in Erwin and good luck, I hope you are able to find everything you need. There is a Wal-Mart a little north in Unicoi if you can find a shuttle to get there or to Johnson City where there's everything you can imagine.