May 17th 2018
Winding Stair Gap – Cold Spring Shelter (mile 125)
15.8 miles
Total miles: 133.8

I had the worst nights sleep. The man in the bunk under me was a snorer. And in between snores he was grinding his teeth. So I got up and went to sleep on the sofa in the little living room area. I spent too long on my phone and didn’t go to sleep until around 11:30pm. Too late. Then. At 4:30am. The other man who I think was called Joe, had a shower. At 4:30am. Then he went back to bed. Then. He took a phone call at about 5:45am and he certainly wasn’t using his indoor voice. Then. At about 6:30am which was a reasonable time to get up, he came in to the room and whispered ‘good morning’. Too late for the whisper. I’ve been awake for hours!!

I also woke to a message from a stranger on my Youtube channel saying that I was applying ‘fancy theatrics’ to my vlogs. That pissed me off. I am just being honestly and uniquely me. I’m not trying to be someone, I’m not trying to ‘produce an adventure reality show’, I’m just trying to show what my hike involves.

I went to the grocery store to buy some wet wipes and some trash bags and I got myself a chocolate milk to cheer myself up. It worked. I felt better.

I didn’t really want breakfast, but I didn’t want to hang around the hostel for an hour either so I went to Kountry Kitchen and saw Ed on the way, so we had breakfast together. I had 2 eggs over medium with home fries and toast. I instantly remembered how much I dislike American breakfasts. The thing I dislike most is that the toast comes ready buttered and the butter tastes weird. Ed had grits with his breakfast. I tried them. I wasn’t keen. He stirred a load of butter into them so they just tasted like gritty butter! Ed very kindly became my trail angel and bought my breakfast for me.

The hostel – Baltimore Jacks – had mixed reviews but I thought it was fine. The owners were really helpful and they give you a free shuttle ride back to the trail which is about 10 miles away. There were a bunch of other hikers in the shuttle, I think most of them were section hikers.

We got dropped back at Winding Stair Gap and and set off up the trail. I passed all the other hikers and then Ed passed me.

The day was a lot more pleasant than I was expecting it to be to begin with. I felt cold at the trailhead, but I warmed up very quickly. It was hot and humid and cloudy with the occasional patch of sun. It was a fairly nice walk up to Wayah Bald. I passed the dads and the 4 kids (I’ll now refer to them as Modern Family) on the way up as they were sat in a nice patch of sun.

It was quite exciting getting to Wayah Bald as there were some views! There is a big tower there which was used as a fire lookout tower and it seemed a little ironic that the immediate surrounding area is a big burn area. As I got there it started to rain, and we could see the clouds rolling in over our view. I got my trash bag out and used it as a skirt to keep my shorts dry and I popped up the umbrella.

I did contact Zpacks because I wanted to get one of their rain kilts deliver to me on the trail, they said it would take 4 weeks! 4 weeks is too many weeks. So for now the trash bag will have to do.

It was raining lightly and we only just made it to Wayah shelter before it started to really chuck it down. I don’t think I would have stood much chance of staying dry in that even with my umbrella. The family came running in to escape the rain and we were all debating whether to stay there or to carry on to the next shelter which was 5 miles away. I knew in my head I should carry on but my body really didn’t want to. My feet and knees were so sore and the rain was torrential.

It was still really early, about 3pm so there was plenty of time to let the rain pass and to make a decision. What tipped the balance for me was the arrival of another hiker. The old dude in the blu shirt who indirectly made me cry the other day. He strutted in and made a claim on his sleeping spot before he had even said hello. He took off his shirt and paraded his body around for all to get a good look and and proceeded to do everything shirtless. Really not necessary!

He spoke to everyone asking them where they were going and how many miles they were doing (insert heavy eye roll) and I stayed quiet. Ed told him I was thru-hiking and he eventually asked me where I’m from. I told him that we had already met and my accent must have jogged his memory. ‘You don’t seem very happy about it’ he said. I’m not, I replied, last time we spoke you were a bit rude. He told me he was joking and I said it didn’t seem that way in his delivery.

So that made things awkward for a few seconds! But we carried on talking between ourselves and another very soggy looking hiker arrived, he said visibility back at Wayah Bald was almost zero now all the cloud had rolled in and it took him 30 minutes to find where the trail went.

The rain began to clear up and the family, Ed and I all decided to hike on another 5 miles to the next shelter. Ed said to me he though the old guy was a jerk and that’s the first time he’d met him, so it wasn’t just me being overly sensitive. He’s one of those guys, Ed said!

It was really muggy and I had set off in my waterproof coat and trash bag skirt in anticipation of the rain but I soon had to stop and take it all off because I was working up a sweat. When the rain came I got the trash bag on again and the umbrella up but it was too warm for the coat. It rained pretty much the whole 5 miles, getting a little harder as I got closer to the shelter. It was a struggle to get there. I arrived last as I expected to and I did have to stop and faff a whole bunch of times. But when i arrives at the shelter, other than being a bit sweaty, I was completely dry.

The shelter was quite full. The dads were camping but the 4 kids were in the shelter. Another guy was in the shelter too which left one space. The kids were really nice and said they could fit 4 of them on three mats and make space for another person, but Ed decided to camp so i took the space in the shelter.

Also met another hiker, In a Rush, who only has 100 days to complete the trail before school starts. He stayed in the same hostel room as Buzzy last night and we entertained each other with stories of his various disasters.

I haven’t really eaten dinner, I couldn’t be bothered to make anything so I just ate some cheese and crisps, which apart from my Twix and some welches fruit snacks, is all I’ve eaten today. And the breakfast of course. There is a great water source here where the water is just flowing straight pud of the side of the mountain through a pipe.

We are all lying next to each other like sardines and I’m listening to the rain pour outside. The older guy who was already here in the shelter hung his food in a rather impressively high bear hang so I hung my food with his. But bears don’t like the rain anyway so we don’t need to be worried. And I’m hoping mice aren’t that keen on the rain either.

* yes I know rain doesn’t keep the bears away. But it helps to think that in my mind.

Watch the YouTube movie!

So I’m trying this whole vlogging thing. Head over to YouTube to see today’s vlog

(there has been a delay in the vlogs because of crappy cell service and WiFi. Stay tuned! There are some crackers.)

Adventure with purpose.

785 million people globally don't have access to clean water. That's 1 in 10 people. In 2020 this is not ok.

I fundraise for Just a Drop in the hope that if I walk thousands of miles for clean water then the people who need to won’t have to. Find out more


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