Day 12. The good need is, whatever was ailing me is gone. I woke up feeling 100% and ready for a great day of hiking. The bad need is, we didn’t get back to the trail until 3:30pm. It was an unplanned (and undesired) Nero day of only 4.6 miles but at least I’m back in the woods where I belong.
The first delay of the day was stopping in to discuss shoes with the experts at Outdoors 76, a Franklin outfitter with trained podiatry footwear experts. These guys may be the most skilled hiking shoe salesman on the planet, but it does take a long conversation to get there. When asking about arch support, I was answered with a 2 hour lecture on what thruhiking does to muscles, ligaments and tendons. I appreciate the thorough discussion but walked out with the same recommendation they give to everyone … hike less. “If you don’t hike anything more than 6-8 miles right now, you’ll be fine.”
They are right of course, but I was looking for something a bit more specific. One of us ended up getting new shoes, and he did say the Dr. Scholl’s I bought yesterday may help, but I likely don’t need them if I heed the common advise. Again, I appreciated the suggestion, but am not looking to slow down my pace that much. I believe I can still do 12-14 miles right now before I feel anything troublesome, so I’ll only slightly modify my hiking plan for the immediate future. Again, it’s a about knowing and listening to your body, and I think mine is capable of a bit more than what he tells hundreds of inexperienced hikers every year.
My skepticism aside, it is an amazing outfitter and worth any hiker’s time to visit. Great staff, great gear selections, and great expertise. They also have an attached brewery with a really good blueberry wheat ale. Yum.
Side note, I almost bought a new spoon because if looked cool. Karma is a b*tch because I decided not to and then found mine was missing at dinner tonight. Damn! So I will be eating with a stick until I reach the NOC in a couple days.
The second delay was Zen, our uber chill hostel owner at Gooder Grove. Not to his fault, but when we finally got back around 1, he was out running errands and shuttling hikers. So we waited until he was back and ready to go out again at 3pm. I really enjoyed his hostel, but after spending nearly 48 straight hours there, I wanted out real bad.
Hostels are a bit stressful, in that you can’t really do much, everything costs money, and every minute there is another minute you feel “normal”. You know, watching tv, checking social media, snacking on junk food … as a thfuhiker, I want that at first, but then just want to get moving again. Sitting idle just doesn’t feel right and, even in a fun town like Franklin. I look at hostels as a necessity for a shower, laundry, and good night sleep. After that is done, I’m ready to get going again and be back on the trail. That may change once this hiker honeymoon stage wears off, but I don’t think I’ll take another Zero Day until Damascus if I can help it.
So today’s hike finally started at 3:30pm from Rock Gap where we left off two days ago. After a couple hours we arrived at a small campsite by a creek. It was only a few more miles to the next shelter but sunlight was running out fast. So we set up camp, cooked dinner (damn stick!!), and hopped into bed.
It’s going to be a rough week, weather wise. Temps at night will drop below 20 for the next few days, and it is supposed to rain Friday through Tuesday. The plan is to get to the NOC in two days, but pass through quickly and then get to Fontana Dam by Saturday. It is 55 miles away and will be the next warm bed. If all goes well, that will do a good job to break up the rain days. Also, we heard it is real bad in the Smokies right now. Cold, snow, wind, etc. Many hikers are waiting out that weather at Fontana Dam. I hope it warms up by the time we get there, I prefer not to have too many more delays this early in the hike. I’m not sure how the tramily feels, but I don’t have concern hiking in cold. I’ve done winter hiking/camping before and my hammock setup is warm.
- Start Mile: 105.4
- Start Time: 15:30
- End Mile: 110.0
- End Time: 17:40
- Miles Hiked: 4.6
- Miles to Go: 2080.9
- Lodging: Moore Creek Campsite