Trail Leg Certified!

Day 15: Mile 147.3 – Locust Cove Gap

It’s hard to believe I’m now over the two week hump! The past few days have been a blur, these days if you ask me where I slept two nights ago, I’ll have no idea…but it’s awesome to think each day brings a new place to walk and a new place to rest my head.

Yesterday began with the decent into the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) which was a brutal knee acher of 3,500ft in 6 miles. Although the knees would ache later, this ridgeline hike down was beautiful!

As per usual, the NOC sucked all hungry hikers in with a warm veggie burger and a pile of fries, and kept them longer with white water rafting. Plus, my ankle brace hadn’t arrived yet so yesterday quickly became a Nero (nearly zero day = <6 mile day), which my feet sure enjoyed!

A Nero day was all too perfect before this morning’s challenge. I’m officially calling it our “trail leg certification” although others were calling it the hardest AT day yet. The climb out of the NOC is notoriously hard, a climb of 4000ft in 6 miles….plus an additional 5 miles and 1500ft to get to camp. Typically AT hikers take 2-3 weeks to get their “trail legs” which is why today felt like graduation day. The climb was tough, don’t get me wrong, but I felt strong. My legs were always ready for the next dreaded peak, after peak, after peak. I definitely didn’t think it was the hardest of days but could tell that if I had had to complete today’s climb two weeks ago, hell, I couldn’t have made it in one day! I was so excited to feel the difference in my body and the strength I’ve gained in the last 15 days.

But hey, anytime your workout involves a rewarding view like this, it’s worth it!


4 thoughts on “Trail Leg Certified!

  1. Hunt Briggs

    Kelly I’m so jealous!! Hope you had fun at the NOC! Did you head up Cheoah Bald today? that is a brutal but rewarding hike. Only clouds from Wayah? you’ve got so many beautiful peaks ahead in the coming weeks – The smokies are significantly colder than where you are now, so hopefully it warms up for you by the time you’re climbing up Mollie’s Ridge. Keep all your layers just in case! Here’s to Trail Magic!


    1. We were up at Cheoah Bald! Do amazing, and definitely made that climb worthwhile. Entered the Smokies today and weather was beautiful, rain tomorrow but I’m skipping the one snow day for a zero in Gatlinburg. Chris King’s joining me for the last half of the smokies and it looks to be sunny and warm…we might have lucked out on weather once again!


  2. Julianne

    You don’t get trail legs until you’ve hiked 300+ miles. You are getting stronger, but you’re nowhere near trail legs. Who told you it was 2 weeks?


    1. Clearly I was joking on “getting my certificate!” since there is no such thing. Trail legs are completely subjective, who told you exactly 300 miles? Past thru hikers mentioned to me that it takes 2-3 weeks to get comfortable with the trail so I really was just saying I was comfortable and strong!


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