Day 34: Mile 387
Nothing makes rain soaked thru-hikers more estatic then a sunshine filled week in the forecast!
After being pampered (i.e. had a shower, got my clothes washed, filled my belly and resupplied on food) by my parents and Grandma in Erwin, TN Friday night, I hit the trail once again Saturday afternoon. It was great to see the family but it is always hard to leave. This time around though, I headed out with brand new kicks! My old shoes were and had taken quite the beating from all these rocks and roots. Look at that difference!
Erwin was hosting a big hiker feed on Saturday so many of the rain soaked hikers took multiple zeros to get some extra food. This resulted in me having the trail all to myself, which was great until I showed up at the shelter and no one was to be seen. Luckily an hour or two later some friendly faces, Crawdaddy and daughter Pebbles, as well as my old hiking buddy K-Tom showed up to keep me company. It was a cold and windy night, with us waking up to frozen water bottles….isn’t it Spring yet?
Next day, K-Tom and I headed toward the infamous Roan Mountain. We’d all heard stories of terrible winds, rain, snow, and flying ice during the tough climb up but we were thinking postively as we found camp that night about halfway up Roan. A beautiful meadow at Ash Gap was where we rested for the night…or laid awake cold and achy if you were me, but that is just how some nights go, at least camp was beautiful!
We woke and prepared to climb the rest of Roan. Funny enough, by the time we found ourselves at the Roan Mountain Shelter (the highest shelter on the AT), we couldn’t believe we had heard such awful things. It was a great climb! My heels have planter fascitis so they don’t love morning climbs but even this wasn’t too bad. We got a nice break at the shelter and heard stories from hikers of the past hotel that once lived at the top of the mountain.
We had planned for our Monday to be a fairly short 10 mile day, with our eyes set for a historic AT shelter down the trail. We hiked up two balds after Roan, Round and Jane Bald, and found a nice and warm spot to enjoy lunch. I think one of my favorite activities is knocking out 8-10 miles after breakfast and finding a beautiful spot to enjoy a nice and relaxing lunch break. I’m all about the breaks where I can take off my shoes and stretch out the legs and feet.
With only a few miles to go, we arrived at Overmountain Shelter to claim our spots for the night. Overmountain is a 40 something year old barn that was converted into an AT shelter. With a loft up above, hikers can set up sleeping pads upstairs, and enjoy a nice hang out spot below with a campfire looking out on the vista.
The gang from previous nights showed up and we enjoyed a nice fire as the sun set. Talking about food, upcoming climbs, and new trail names given to the new faces. As much as people joke I’m living up to my trail name, I’m starting to believe it since K-Tom and I have seen all new faces the last few days, meaning we’ve hiked into a whole new bubble of hikers.
Once again, another beautiful experience the trail has provided last night, nothing like it.
Next up is mile 400 and entering the great (giant) trail state of Virginia. First up, the town of Damascus!