From Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine

Monday, April 23, 2012

Boone, NC

Hello hello! Daystar here in Boone, NC. Monica & her dad picked me up from US19 E yesterday, along with Roadside - he promised his mama that he wouldn't hitchhike and so Mr. Carroll kindly agreed to drop him at the nearby hostel. He then kindly agreed to drop me at the nearby Wendy's. I haven't had fast food in years but on the trail, I've developed a serious hankering for Frostys. Ha after all that, we headed over to their adorable Mountain House (named Appalachian Moonshine) in Boone, NC - where Monica went to college at Appalachian State University. Monica showed me to the shower, where I had my first encounter with girly smelling things in over a month. All my previous showers have been in hostels or cheap motels using whatever shampoo & soap that's around. Monica, bless her heart, took all my dirty, stinky clothes and washed everything while I showered. She let me borrow some COTTON clothes, quite a luxury for someone who's been wearing only quick-dry synthetic materials. She made a mean Mexican macaroni casserole and her dad grilled some turkey burgers and we had a really great dinner. After a long, amazing soak in the hot tub, we threw on some skirts & chacos and went down to the Boone Saloon where I had a Maker's on the rocks & some local IPAs. The Maker's was especially delicious - the past few trail towns have been in dry counties. When we realized Hot Springs had no liquor, we chanted "no bourbon til Erwin" only to arrive in Erwin and realize there was "no bourbon IN Erwin.."

Anyway, the trail is still going really, really well. I'm so fortunate to be hiking with such a great group of people. I hiked ahead of them this week to meet Monica and take a day off here and will catch back up with them on Monday with a big picnic "sandwich party." Hiking without them and being on my own felt good at first, but I've realized that a big part of this experience is sharing it with others. For those who've seen Into the Wild - that was a big part at the end, a quote from Tolstoy that life experiences are meant to be shared with others.

Now that I'm sitting on a computer, I uploaded lots of pictures & videos from my phone that I'm excited to share from a while back:

Easter Sunday we left Gatlinburg and re-entered the Smokeys. One of the first things we saw was Charlie's Bunion, this amazing view. I'm here with the Peace Corps boys - a group of 3 guys that spent the last two years in Peru teaching & setting up programs about Environmental Conservation. They are Wonder, Fresh, and Squiddy (Squiddy started out as School Words, which evolved to Squidward, and then to Squiddy for short).

Tuesday April 10 was our last morning in the Smokeys. We stayed in Davenport Shelter, the last shelter in the Smokeys and also the last to still have a bear cage. Until recently, all the shelters in the Smokeys had the bear cages to protect people & their food. Unfortunately, many really dumb people thought it would be a good idea to FEED the bears through the cage, which attracted even more bears, and teaches them to associate humans with free food - NOT a good idea! They decided to take down the cages and instead provide bear cables, which work great, and you don't feel like you are in a zoo.



There was no real sign indicating that we had left the Smokeys, but I did see a cool old state line carved into a rock. 

Once we were out of the Smokeys, we had to cross I-40, which felt pretty odd. 
Check out the White Blaze under the East 40 sign!
Gribley & Pants on Fire by I-40
Along the trail are lots of cool hostels. I'm starting to realize that beyond the actual TRAIL experience, there is so much beyond the trail. I love seeing small town America and all these cool hostels along the way. They are like little trail attractions that hikers talk about. One of those was Standing Bear Hostel. We didn't stay there, but it was cool to walk over for lunch. Pilgrim, one of the owners, offered me a spaghetti dinner which was awesome! They also provided a small resupply store, which was really adorable & helpful.

Standing Bear
Spaghetti dinner for lunch with a really cute puppy watching me. 
Resupply options
Another shot of the grounds
The guys hanging out 
I LOVED this really beautiful sink & tile
After we left the hostel, we had some big climbs ahead of us, including Snowbird Mountain - a pretty bald with a weird government building:

Loved the pretty yellow flowers
Shot of the building
Flugel Horn, Hollywood, Gribley, Davey Jones, Pac Man & Pants on Fire
The biggest climb of the day, and one of my favorite spots of the whole trail was climbing up Max Patch. We'd left the Smokey's that morning and it was a long day with lots of climbs, but totally worth it hiking up this beautiful bald at the end of the day. My camera on my phone has been fussy when it gets too cold, but luckily I was able to capture this video before the camera froze.


After summiting Max Patch, we hiked down a bit to find a campsite that was pretty but very windy. That night was one of the coldest on the trail - we heard the temperature had dropped down to the 20s. Thankfully, I was plenty warm in my tent & sleeping bag for bed, but in the morning, I stayed in all my warm gear to walk a mile north to a shelter where we warmed up over breakfast. From there, we pushed hard to get into Hot Springs. I have a ton of great pictures but will share those in a separate post.

I'm going to go ahead and sign off for tonight, and hope to write another post in the morning with more. I've had a really incredible day in Boone - Monica and I had a great lunch, I got some new gear at the outfitters (with a nice discount and free purple nalgene for being a thru-hiker!), we resupplied my food at Walmart and will pick up a few more things in the morning. We soaked in the hot tub, and Monica made me a hot foot soak for my tired feet, and I applied some yoga cream from India (like Icy Hot) to my sore knees. I feel like a pampered princess! As happy as I am to be here, I keep thinking of my fellow hikers out on the trail - it's snowing out and I just pray they are safe & warm.

Goodnight y'all!! xo




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