May 16th 2018
Carter Gap shelter – Winding Stair Gap / Franklin (mile 109.2)
15.9 miles
Total miles: 118

I made the right decision not to pitch my tent. It poured all night long. And it was so pound on the roof of the shelter. I felt like I had been awake all night, but I remember putting on some podcasts and hearing the first minute and when I woke up again it had finished. So I must have got some sleep. I just woke up a lot.

Ed was up at 6 which was great because than meant I got up too, it was so dark in the shelter I probably would have slept in really late. I wasn’t looking forward to hiking today. There was some really patchy cell service at the shelter and I managed to see the weather forecast. Rain all day.

It was one of those things where the rain always sounds worse on the roof than it actually is, but it was still horrible out. I set off first and there were a few ups and downs. I was managing ok with my umbrella and I was too hot in my waterproof coat but I didn’t want to stop to take it off. I stopped briefly to fill up my water bottle and then I didn’t stop again for the rest of the day. I knew I wouldn’t so I loaded up with snacks in my snack pocket to keep me going.

I played my podcasts out loud for a while because I didn’t want to fish around for my headphones. The umbrella did work pretty well for the most part. It does slow me down a bit because I am constantly on the look out for tree branches and worried about it getting a nice big rip in it. For about 3 hours I was really quite dry. Of course a day of constant rain means you won’t stay completely dry and I started to get damp, especially on the left arm where the umbrella is slightly over to the right side.

Eventually Ed caught up with me and overtook, and then all the kids came blazing past as we were doing the most brutal climb of the day up to Albert mountain. At the top there should have been some great views but of course all we could see sea cloud. Ed was up there soaked to the skin and shivering! We went down the other side and had a few miles of really cruisy trail. It was slightly downhill, and not too rocky. It was great.

I walked behind Ed for most of the rest of the day, apart from when I lost him on the uphill parts. We decided to just keep going, stopping just meant getting cold. As the day went on my feet became completely wet as the water soaked through to my socks. The trail was squelchy and there was no point avoiding the puddles. The water was now rolling off my pack and running down the back of my shorts so now my bum was completely soaked. It eventually started creeping around the front and I felt like I had wet my pants. I’m sure if i did just let go it wouldn’t have made any difference.

We just hiked and hiked and didn’t stop. My knees and feet were really feeling it on the downhills

We did pass the official 100 mile mark, but of course we passed the real 100 miles yesterday, which I only realised when I was in the shelter.

Eventually after 16 miles and 7 hours of hiking in the rain we made it to Winding Stair Gap and the road to Franklin. We tried to hitch a ride and it took us maybe 15 minutes before a very nice man stopped. It turns out he always stops for hikers and has taken many of them into town this season. He took us right to the door of where we wanted to go. Luckily the places were right opposite each other. I went for the cheap hostel options and Ed went for the slightly more expensive Budget Inn.

My room was fine. I have two others in there. An older guy John and a Chinese man who is carrying a 45lb pack. So many people with seriously heavy packs!

I took a much needed shower. Washed my 8 day old hair but I don’t have a brush so it’s still gross and knotty. I washed my clothes which was nice. Most of them were wet anyway! But my hiking top was actually reasonably dry. I’m going to look for a trash bag to wear to protect my shorts.

Then along came, you guessed it, Buzzy! He had been walking for about 36 hours straight because his tent blew away and he couldn’t find a shelter. Yep. His tent blew away. He is a total disaster. He is going to Walmart to get a new one tomorrow!

I printed out my permit for the smokey mountains and went to the grocery store with Ed and bought some random stuff to supplement my left over resupply. Chips cheese candy and chocolate mostly.

We then went to one of those craft beer brewery pub things. I didn’t have any beer although Ed wanted to be my trail angel and get me one, I settled on a sprite instead. Beer would have done my stomach no favours. We also got food and I had a delicious chicken pesto burger which was served with tortilla chips and hummus which went down a treat, bought with money given to me by my wonderful trail angel Glendee.

Catwater would have been shocked at how late I left it to get food in town. Her priority was always a shower and mine was always food. This time I did shower and laundry AND grocery shopping before I got food!

We saw a bunch of other hikers there. It was a little hard to understand how they were hiking. I’m sure one of them said he was taking it easy today because he pushed himself too hard by doing 5 miles in 7 hours. Ed and I looked at each other with a look that said we have just done 16 miles in 7 hours. I’m not sure they’ll finish. One girl said she had 8 months to finish the trail. I’m not sure how you can afford to be on the trail for 8 months.

I then spent the rest of the evening buried deep in my phone getting this blog up to date!

Getting a 16 mile day in, eating real food, getting a soda, doing laundry, taking a shower, using a proper toilet, and getting 7 blog posts scheduled is a pretty good day!!


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.)

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