May 31st 2018
Piped spring – Overmountain Shelter (mile 385.6)
20.6 miles
Total Miles: 395.8

I slept so well in my tent. It rained as I was going to sleep and I remember thinking oh bugger it’s raining, then the next thing I knew it was 6am and I had a solid 9 hours sleep. There were a bunch of bugs crawling over my tent and it was covered in rain but ultimately things weren’t bad at all. 


I packed up quickly and left before Moon. The girl who came into camp last night hadn’t made a peep. She said she can only hike a maximum of 15 miles a day but these type of people don’t break camp until 10am, so they could do more if they got up a little earlier. 

The morning was slow because the sun looked so nice streaming through the trees and I kept stopping to take photos. The trail was also covered in those little orange salamander / newt things and I was trying not to step on any of them. I got cell service and looked at a few messages. I saw some donations had come in which is so nice. 

Because I was faffing about so much Moon caught up to me and overtook me, but whatever because I did manage to get one of my favourite pictures of the trail so far.


He must have stopped at a shelter because I managed to get in front of him unknowingly. I was hiking along feeling a bit weird today. Some days you feel like a strong independent woman. Some days you are a bad ass champion of the world. Some days you are desperately lonely. Some days you are wanting to reject everything and everyone. Today I was all of these things within the space of a minute. My mind was swinging wildly between needing no one and feeling totally alone in the world. It was quite intense feeling for a good hour or so but I managed to pull myself out of it. I think the fact I needed a poo really took over my thoughts. It got to a point when the kids weren’t just knocking on the door, they were trying to knock it down. 

I had to push my way through the trees to find a spot to release the kids and it was such a relief. I had finished and I was just washing my hands with some water and Moon walked by. I stood very still thinking he may not see me but he must have sensed my presence and he said “I see you hiding!”. 

As it was downhill I caught up to him. He never offers for me to go ahead and pass him, even though I am much quicker than him on the downhill. I don’t think it even crosses his mind. So I walked behind him for a few miles, listening to him talking. We passed a few people on the way, more thru-hikers I think. At the bottom of the descent we decided to hike up .4 to a stream and have a break for food. I had planned to eat at the bottom of the climb and I had told my belly that. When it didn’t get food there it was very unhappy! It was letting out a deep growl. But it was only 0.4 and I soon appeased it with crisps and cheese. Moon played his bamboo flute. 

I let him go off ahead so I could hike on my own. I like doing the hills by myself so I can go at my own pace and stop whenever I want to. It was quite a long climb for the AT, they are normally steep and short but this was nearly 5 miles of going uphill. It began to rain a bit, and it was weird because I could hear it raining in the trees but it wasn’t quite making it on to me yet, it was being filtered out by the leaves. Eventually it did start to get a bit harder and I got the brolly and the trash bag out but only needed them for about 20 minutes and then it stopped. 

The trails started out in the rhododendrons and shrubs and as it got higher it changed to dense leafy trees, where I was thankful it wasn’t raining because the brolly wouldn’t have fit, and then it moved into rocky pine forests and then finally into a world of Christmas trees. The climb wasn’t too bad. I still did it slowly but there were even a few switchbacks which made it easier. 


As I neared the top there is a side trail which leads to the highest shelter on the AT. It was a steep side trail and I really couldn’t be bothered to go there. The only reason would have been to get water but the whole trail was a river so there was no need to go up. I was pretty sure Moon would have gone up there. 

The trail was a big gravel path and water was cascading down the sides and along the trail. I found a spot to get some nice water from, and I thought it couldn’t have been just from that little bit of rain earlier. All the way down the other side the trail was flowing. At one point I had to check the map to make sure I was still on the trail and I hadn’t accidentally started following a river. 


I popped out at Carvers Gap where there was an outhouse but no trash can. I got rid of my literally shitty toilet paper which was nice and I managed to get a bit more clean toilet paper because I was nearly out. As good as trail magic! 


I sat on the grass for a little break and ate the rest of my cheese and crisps before moving on to hike over the balds. The trail was like a hiking superhighway. Obviously close to a big parking / day use area so the trail was wide and covered in gravel as it went out to Round Bald. The climb up to Jane Bald was a lot steeper and rockier and it was hot!! The sun had come out and I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be in the sun! I wished the clouds would come over and give me some shade! 


I was hiking along and I was feeling a bit nauseous. My stomach felt really weird. So I hiked along for a couple of hours with a totally blank mind. I just zoned out and walked. It was mostly downhill which helped but it was rocky and super muddy so I was having to be careful not to trip and fall which I nearly did a couple of times. I came very close to stacking it and that shook me out of my mind numb. 

I saw a little rabbit hopping along the trail. I stopped to have a wee and a few minutes later a guy blazed last me. He was really flying. Eventually I made it to the junction of the shelter and hiked the 0.2 down to it (meaning that there is an extra climb in the morning to get back to the trail). This shelter is pretty cool. It’s a big old barn. 


When I arrived I saw In-a-Rush which I wasn’t expecting. He said he’s slowing it down a bit. He did a 30 mile day yesterday and he decided to just do 9 miles today. I think he is shifting from wanting to get to Maine in 100 days to just seeing how far he gets in 100 days and being happy with that. He is a really nice kid. And he is a kid. I think I’m nearly twice his age. How did that situation happen?! 

The man that blazed past me is appropriately named Zippy, and there was a section hiker there too. I ate my ramen noodles and about 40 minutes later Moon arrived. Moon seems to have developed a habit of farting in the middle of everyone and not even acknowledging it, apologising, or better still moving away, which would be a better way to behave, especially as they really stink. Next time I think I’m going to have to say something. 


We sat around chatting for a bit and it was ok. It started to get really chilly and we could see the weather rolling in. I was looking forward to a bit thunder storm and hoping for some lightning but it didn’t really amount to much, just rain. 

More and more people arrived. There was a lot of smoking going and and a lot of conversation I wasn’t really interested in. Turtle and Catwoman, who I met at the diner in Erwin, arrived having got caught in the rain, and there suddenly became quite a crowd of people. 

I didn’t feel much like socialising tonight, I found myself staring into space and getting annoyed with people, so I went upstairs and got in my sleeping bag where some others had already done the same. The whole barn moves when people move around. It also has some giant holes in the floor and the sickly smell of maujarana, mixed with the few people who are smoking normal cigarettes, is wafting up through the floor. It makes me feel a bit ill. 


People are still rolling in now at 8:30pm. The shelter is getting pretty full and I’m fairly certain that my nights sleep is going to be nowhere near as good as it was last night! 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 23