Today I hit a major milestone in my trek, I crossed into North Carolina. Thats 1 state down 13 to go.
I think today was my hardest day since I started. I'm not sure if it's because of pushing it yesterday, 8 days of wear and tear on my body, or just tougher terrain. My guess is probably a combination of the 3. So far North Carolina is shaping up to be way harder than Georgia. After crossing the state line, I came across a cool old tree that was all twisted. It's a pretty common picture from AT thru-hikers.
After taking my picture by the tree I sat down and had my second breakfast, coffee and a honey bun. The day was all downhill(not literally) after that. The next mountain really tested my resolve. It was very hot out and the mountain was very very steep. I think I only hit 1 switchback for the whole ascent, which was over 1,000 feet. Courthouse Bald stood at 4,600 feet. I don't think N. Carolina likes us thru-hikers. The downhills today were also hellacious. Today is the first day my feet really hurt. All day long I had to step on jagged rocks to get down the damn mountains.
I hiked most of the day with a father/son team. They are really nice guys. The dad, Mike, retired last year after serving 30 yrs in the Army. The son, Josh, just got out of the Marine Corps after his Afganistan tour of duty was over. Mike hikes a nice easy pace and Josh always follows a few steps behind. We were both pushing long miles today to try to get ahead of bad weather coming in tomorrow.
The end of today had us climbing Standing Indian Mountain, 5,500', then a steep rocky descent. Neither of us wanted to try and tackle that during a thunderstorm. We are also getting close to town. With long miles today and midrange miles tomorrow, we can get to Franklin early Saturday and have a nice long Nero day. Josh and Mike live in N. Carolina so the mom/wife will come and meet them for the day. I'm really looking forward to town on Saturday. I've done 31.4 miles in two days and I'm feeling pretty beat. Plus I'm really dirty and I smell pretty bad. I'd be embarrassed, but everyone else is equally dirty and smelly.
I got to experience trail magic again today and it couldn't have come at a better moment. After the hellacious rocky, muddy, steep, never ending downhill, King Croc was waiting at the gap. He served us hot dogs, snickers, and an ice cold Coke. Plus he had out lawn chairs. It was heaven. There was also another guy there with his 2 kids. He had apples, oranges, bananas, and coffee. Fresh fruit is such a luxury on the trail. I had 2 bananas and took 2 oranges for later. Once again I am amazed at the kindness of strangers. They graciously accepted all of the trash we were carrying in our packs. Just amazing, thanks again King Croc and Fruit Guy.
Here are a few random pictures from the day.
Some day hiker told me I had to take a side trail to check out the coolest thing ever. He said it was well worth the .5 mile trip. Turns out the guy was very wrong. Thanks asshole for my extra 1 mile walk today(can't even add it to my daily mileage because it was off trail)
No cell service tonight, hopefully I can get this posted in the morning once I climb out of this valley.
"What it is...is a place where I can return to myself. It's enough of a scramble to get to...that the energy expended is significant, and it translates into a change in my body chemistry and my psychological chemistry and my heart chemistry" Jay Salter