Week 5 video recap is up! Lots of great photos in this section between Hot Springs and Roan Mountain, which I hiked primarily alone or with new friends.
Speaking of, I feel like this past week started a new chapter in my thruhike experience. I feel I have moved past the “wanting to hike with a big group” stage to “enjoying the solitude of hiking alone” stage. I’m not purposely leaving hiking buddies behind, but I’m really enjoying the stamina I’ve now built and the excitement I have to see as much of this trail as possible each day. I welcome others that want to join, but am ok moving forward alone as well.
I still like camping/lodging with others though, especially as we get into the more heavily populated bear area. It’s one thing to hike alone, another to sleep alone. There is comfort in numbers when sleeping in the woods and I still push to get to shelters in hopes of finding it.
But first … that breakfast! If any future hikers are reading this, make SURE Mountain Harbour is on your hostel list. And make SURE you get their optional breakfast. It is widely known as the “best breakfast in the AT” and they aren’t lying! Homemade biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, pancakes, honey cake, and scrambled eggs WITH pierogis inside! If I sound excited, it’s because I’m still dreaming of that meal 18 miles later.
However, I also witnessed a first at the Mountain Harbour B&B. They overslept. Breakfast was supposed to be 8am, but the whole family overslept and didn’t get up until they heard us making noise in the living room. Oops. Not a big deal of course, just a slight delay to today’s hike. After 2 amazing helpings, I finally packed up to leave at 11am, dragging my feet as much as possible. And just as I was about to take off, a hiker strolled in … Leap Frog!
Since Erwin, she’s apparently only been a few miles behind me and decided to stay at the last campsite I almost camped at yesterday. She did the 3 miles down to the road this morning and decided to randomly check out the hostel down the road. We caught up quickly while she made lunch (ramen, per her usual) and then I headed out. I didn’t know exactly how far I’d go today but it was too nice out to sit around longer and plan it.
With the late start and all that food weighing down my gut, I thought maybe I’d stop at Mountaineer Shelter 9 miles away, or perhaps the random campsite at 14 miles. As usual I was wrong and hiked 18 before dark. It helped that most of the day was super flat, though, as the trail followed a river through the hillside. At one point we realized we were averaging 3 mph, which is crazy fast compared to my usual 2 or 2.5!
I spent the day trading places with Legs and Ripple, two hikers I haven’t really walked with but have camped with a few times. They are usually much faster than me but today we kept stride well along the flat meandering road.
Together, we enjoyed a few great moments and landmarks. For starters, two beautiful waterfalls highlighted the walk today, which are the first I’ve seen out here (remember, I skipped the stairs to amicalola falls on the approach trail). The larger of the two, Jones Falls, was at least 50ft high and very scenic as the water continued its course downward on a long rocky slope. Just beautiful, check out the photo below.
There was also a creepy cemetery we hiked by, that big gorgeous river, and a giant tree that Legs felt just had to be climbed. And he did, 30 ft up in the air. See if you can spot him below.
Today feels like a primer of what’s to come in Virginia, where everyone is talking up 25-30 mile days. I normally wouldn’t think that possible … but if I started at 8 today, that easily could have happened. This trail is just crazy like that sometimes!
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)
- Start to Mile: 394.8
- Start Time: 11:10
- End Mile: 413.2
- End Time: 19:20
- Miles Hiked: 18.4
- Miles to Go: 1777.7
- Lodging: Moreland Gap Shelter