Day 24 and 25: Mile 248-274
I had seen pictures of hikers experiencing Max Patch before I began my hike. It was on my “looking forward to” list, for no particular reason other than it looked like a magical place along the trail with some of the best views around.
Well the day finally arrived, Chris and I had exited the Smokies and were heading towards Max Patch. I lucked out once again, though we woke to freezing temperatures, the day would soon turn to be in the 60s and sunny…a perfect day for hiking!
I hate to speak for Chris but he was hanging in there after a long 18 mile day prior, not too sore and not too many blisters so far, but Day 4 of his AT journey was about to bring him lots of elevation! We started the morning with a quick hike up out of the shelter and continued over what seemed to be small rollcoasters of 200-400ft hills. Luckily, dreams came true for a second day in a row when we walked up on some Trail Magic just at the base of Max Patch!
Past thru-hikers, Yak and Woodpile, were providing the Homer Simpson Special of trail magic by handing out donuts and beer, among other treats including a fan favorite for others, bacon! We hung out to hear stories from their own journey, ate donuts, and warmed our hands by the campfire before grabbing some chip bags to-go and heading out on our way.
The climb up Max Patch was not bad at all especially since hiking on grass was a new and weirdly exciting new addition to the trail. We got up to the top, dropped our bags, and took in the 360 degree views.
Lucky for my eyes and stomach, we had arrived just in time for a lunch break. There’s nothing better than being able to sit back, take off your shoes and grab lunch in a nice sunny spot along the trail with a view.
Obviously Max Patch lived up to my expectations, as you can tell by the silly grin on my face! Another milestone to check off the books, not so much in mileage but of favorite spots I’ve noted along the trail.
We headed out from the patch and finished out our day, leaving us just 13 miles until we hit Hot Springs, NC.
Chris’s last day didn’t disappoint with some last peaks to climb and brutal elevation change getting us up and around, and then down to Hot Springs. My sister, Jess, and her boyfriend Andrew along with pup, Ollie, joined us in town during my zero day and Chris’s last day on trail.
It was so nice to have familiar faces around the last few days but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to have to say goodbye. The last month has been filled with all new experiences and new faces, but just a taste of family and friends and it has me yearning for home. As with any other struggle, this feeling will pass Im sure once I’m back on the trail. For now, it’s just nice to think about how fun the last few days were and how lucky I am to have friends and family to come and join me on the trail.
This week will be a test once again with several consecutive days of rain in the forecast. Next stop, mile 300 and Erwin, TN!