Day 51. As expected, I had a late morning. Last night was bitter cold, probably the coldest I’ve had sleeping outside. When it has been this cold in the past, it was usually accompanied by snow or rain, so I’d end up sleeping in a shelter. But last night was a unique cold-and-windy-but-dry night, so my ability to stay warm in the hammock was vigorously tested.
All in all, I slept fine enough. I went to bed later than normal, and had a few strong gusts of wind wake me, but I was so exhausted from yesterday’s hike, that I eventually fell back asleep. It was bitter cold and blowing hard in the morning too, so I was pretty much awake at 6:00am. Around 8:30, I finally gave in and crawled out of bed. I was not surprised to find a layer of frozen dew covering my tarp. I made a quick breakfast, hoping the sun would melt and dry the tarp. It didn’t. So I wiped down the tarp of its frost using a tiny towel and got work breaking camp. After slowly packing everything up, I was ready to hike around 9:30.
The good news is that the sun was shining throughout the day and it slowly heated up to a temperature in the mid 50’s. Good hiking weather.
The terrain was another story, of course. It was mainly ridge walking, with one significant 1500 ft elevation drop to a road followed by an immediate climb back up. That part wasn’t so bad, but the rocks layering the path all day was. I’m getting very sick off these stupid rocks. There are almost no rocks on either side of the trail, but where I’m supposed to walk is like a damn mine field. One misstep and it’s a twisted ankle or stabbing pain into the bottom of my foot. So I spent all day looking down and missing anything else of significance around me.
There was one great vista though, and the view was spectacular. Wind Rock is its name, and it gives you a taste of the upcoming famous view at McAfee Knob a couple days away. The scenery visible from Wind Rock was stunning so I snapped a pic (above).
McAfee Knob is at mile 713, about 45 miles from here. Every hiker on this trail is guaranteed to have 3 ceremonial photos taken: at the Amicalola Falls arch, at Katahdin’s summit, and at McAfee Knob. Do a quick google image search and you’ll understand why. It is the quintessential trail photo with the most stunning view of the Appalachian Mountains. I am extremely excited to finally get their to see the famous view and have my epic photo shoot.
However, I have a big problem. The weather is calling for 5 days of clouds and rain starting Monday. If I don’t get to McAfee Knob before that weather hits, I won’t have any visibility of the scenery to capture. And with that extended forecast, i won’t be able to wait it out for a better day … I could lose a whole week trying.
So, I’m left with one option. Hike 45 miles in 2 days. And get there for a hopefully awesome sunset shot, or a hopefully awesome sunrise shot the next morning. There are shelters within a couple miles on both sides, so I have close enough accommodations to make that plan work. And the rain is supposedly not coming until 2pm on Monday, so theoretically, all could work out. Theoretically …
I’m kicking myself for not going another 7 miles today to the next shelter, that would have helped significantly. I got hear early enough. But my feet are beat up from those rocks and I need a better night of sleep if I’m going to do double 20+ mile days in a row. I’m going to bed early tonight, so maybe I’ll wake up early enough to have a good long day tomorrow. Terrain looks tough, but we’ll see.
I know I know, it’s just a photo. No reason to kill yourself to capture it. It will always be there to come back and do another time. I know. But damnit, I’m thruhiking THIS year, so I want my photo NOW. 🙂
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 650.1
- Start Time: 09:40
- End Mile: 668.5
- End Time: 17:45
- Miles Hiked: 18.4
- Miles to Go: 1522.4
- Lodging: War Spur Shelter