Saturday Sept. 30th – End of day
Temp. Hi – 66* / Lo – 45*
Miles hiked so far – 16
Nobody hiked in to the shelter or vicinity last night. It was just us and we were being shaken by wind consistently throughout the night until morning.
We fell asleep at 8 o’clock last night and didn’t wake up officially until 8am. We both were awake to pee at 6 and it was so cold out we just snuggled back up and dozed off again. My Enlightened Equipment quilt is SO warm. We slept for 12 hours!
It was very windy today.
While we were packing up this morning, another section hiker walked up and chatted with us. He was from upstate New York and heading to Springer solo, beginning at Harper’s Ferry and said he planned to be there by Thanksgiving. His massive section made ours look nothing like a section, but a casual stroll in the park.
He got a huge kick out of the fireplace in the shelter. He told us he packed minimal clothes and was enjoying our company but to keep warm, he had to keep moving. We said farewells and finished breaking down our campsite.
We got on the trail late, around 9:20am and continued south. Tonight we are lodging at Skyland Resort. From the shelter to the lodge it’s about 7 and a half miles.
We didn’t eat breakfast today and I was feeling it. I was dragging super hard and was getting anxious because we opted out of refilling our water this morning. A few miles in however we came upon the Pinnacles picnic area parking lot and lo and behold – there was a water fountain AND restrooms! We sat and ate some energy bars and cameled up on water. Propel Raspberry Lemonade drink mix saved my life today, y’all.
I was in my head a lot today. B hiked ahead of me while I found my pace. I could feel my left pinky toe forming a hot spot. It started to become a little annoying.
Oh my god, Stony Man. Let me tell you about the busiest day hike location I think I’ve personally encountered yet. I was overwhelmed with the descending people-traffic and tried to take my time so I didn’t trip, yet get out of there quickly while trudging up jagged rocks and what seemed like a hundred switchbacks.
(If I was going to cry today…or at all, this was it.)
But I didn’t. We carried on and I felt miserable and it was only day 2. I began wondering what we were doing and why we were even doing it. Did B feel this terrible? If so he wasn’t really showing it. Skyland was so close, but so far. The climb to the lodge was killing, and me and B bickered most of the way up. It was the worst. We were starving, it was freezing, and I found myself craving a cold, sugary Pepsi the last 2 miles.
Finally the trail opened up to a fire road. This was apparently the back way up to the lodge. I started to feel relief until we came upon another intersection and blindly chose which way we should go – up. Again.
Luckily it was the correct choice. We finally made it to the office which was next to the dining hall, where we picked up a couple sandwiches and chips and felt 110% better almost immediately.
(We were just hangry the whole time, who knew?)
We ate on the patio overlooking the mountains (it was freezing), then checked in to our cabin. It was so welcome after a pretty mentally hard day. Today is our second short day. If only 7.5 miles was this hard, what do the 10 and 11 mile days have in store?! We have ended up hiking MORE than what’s listed on trail signs & on Guthook’s, due to side trails and anything we want to see out of the way. Sigh.
We both took warm showers and an hour nap, setting the alarm for 5pm so we could make it to dinner at the dining hall at 5:30. I wanted to eat and then go back to bed.
Dinner was delicious. I had a Thanksgiving style turkey and dressing dinner, with an appetizer of crab and corn chowder, while B chose the bison meatloaf and a salad. Then we shared the blackberry ice cream pie which was AMAZING.
(This is the part of the trip where I am beginning to feel like we are cheating a little.)
Sleeping in a warm bed tonight and eating an incredible dinner. However, we wanted this experience to be part vacation and part work. It is living up well to the expectation so far. Hiking 9 miles tomorrow to Big Meadows is on the agenda, so I’m going to sleep well and warm tonight after this cold exhausting day so I can focus better. If this whole week is a repeat of the way I felt today we’ve got a long road ahead, hah!
All in all, it WAS a beautiful day when I stopped to realize what I was doing and where I was, and why we even began this trip. Our goal is to complete the AT in time, in sections. This is the easiest part of the AT according to past thru hikers, and a great introduction. We are lucky to be here and I’m going to enjoy it even when it gets hard. I am here to grow and challenge myself.