May 23rd 2018
Peck’s Corner Shelter – Green corner road / Standing Bear farm (mile 241.1)
23.9 miles
Total miles: 250.9


It rained for most of the night I think, although I slept well. There was a large bang in the middle of the night and I noticed a couple of torches shine out from the top bunk. They’ve got this, I thought and quickly went back to sleep. 

Eventually what woke me was a mouse running over my sleeping bag. If you pop my sleeping mat I will hunt you down and squash you. 

I’m not setting alarms, I figure that my body needs the sleep. So I tend to wake naturally around 6am. This time I stayed in my bed until 6:30, even though I knew I had a big day ahead of me. But I can pack up quickly, and when there is no tent to pack up it’s easy. I got my food bag down and sorted today’s snacks. A twix and a packet of skittles. Not enough snacks! 

I ate my sickly sweet nutrigrain bar for breakfast and had an instant chocolate drink with the hope of getting more fluid into me. I stopped at the privy on the way out of the shelter hoping for a movement. There was a small one. 

The first 0.4 of a mile was all uphill back to the trail. It was misty and the trees were raining but by the time I reached the trail I had to take my coat off as I was sweating already. I stopped for water and I did a little film of myself which showed that all the fluid in my body had pooled around my eyes and they were all puffy and swollen. 

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This mornings water source

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I had a big mile day ahead of me so I put my head down and just walked. It was a gentle up and down for the first part of the day, the temperature was perfect and the trail was absolutely beautiful. There were no views because of the mist but the forest looked all mossy and enchanted. Mystical and other worldly. 

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I was really enjoying the hike. I was making good time, hiking at a steady 2.5 miles an hour. Around midday the sun started to clear away the most and it got a bit hotter but there was a lot of tree cover so it stayed shady. I was hiking along listening to podcasts. I have so many downloaded but I’m finding I can’t listen to any that require thought. I can only listen to mindless chatter, so I have been listening to a lot of the Guilty Feminist. It’s just background noise. 

I really need a poo so that always makes me hike faster. I call into Tricorner Shelter and give a quick hi to the two people there and ran to the privy. I only just made it! I chatted to them for a bit and they said they have been on the trail for a month already. They are shooting for their biggest day today, 15 miles. It was about 10am so that’s probably part of the reason they aren’t doing big miles. That and the fact they were trying to feed weed to the chipmunks.

I had eaten all my snacks before 10am. Including the rest of my crisps. 

I carry on down the trail and at about 1:30 I am stopped in my tracks by a loud sound in the forest and I look up to my right and there is a bear there, clearly sniffing me. He’s further away than the last one I saw but this one seems much more interested. I move on quickly. I hike uphill as fast as I can until I can barely breathe and I’m purple in the face. 

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Shortly after the bear encounter began the giant downhill. From 6000ft down to 1500ft. There were bits where I could really pick up the pace and there were bits that were so rocky and slippy it slowed me right down. There was a side trail to a fire tower but it was a 1.2 mile round trip and I didn’t have time for that today. I saw someone’s pack on the side of the trail so I knew someone had made the trip. 

I carried on as fast as I could downhill, I just wanted to get it over with. Downhill may sound fun but the pressure on your knees and ankles gets too much after a while. I was having to walk almost sideways to relieve the pressure on my right knee. I hadn’t seen anyone for ages and despite hardly drinking anything I really needed a wee. So I stopped quickly and had a wee and I was almost caught by the person who had taken the side trip. His name was Ryan and we hiked together for the next 3 or so miles. We chatted all the way down which passed the time quickly and it was nice to have someone to talk to. The trail was quite squelchy in some places and I managed to keep my feet dry but there was a lot of mud going on. He stopped at Davenport shelter for a break and I carried on to Davenport gap which is where the Smokys ends. He told me he had camped at tricorner shelter last night and asked if I had seen the hippy couple. I described the couple I had met at the shelter and that was them. That’s when I heard the feeding weed to the chipmunks story. 

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A little uphill and then a whole bunch more downhill through some really pretty areas with water falls and numerous river crossings. With only half a mile of downhill left I had to stop and have a break for 10 minutes. My legs and feet just couldn’t take it any more. I only had 1.9 miles to go to my destination but I was just so tired and so hungry. The end of the downhill brought me out onto the road. I didn’t realise I would be walking under the Interstate – one of the less glamorous parts of a thru-hike. It was so so hot now I had lost so much elevation and walking on the road was unbearable. I felt like the heat was coming at me from every angle. 

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After getting back on the trail, climbing up a giant rocky staircase and hiking up a steep hill for the last 0.8 of a mile, I then walked 0.2 of a mile along a gravel road to get to Standing Bear farm, a hostel popular with hikers. 

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It has mixed reviews and I can kind of see why. It’s a bit ramshackle but it does the job. They are really geared up for hikers with a reasonable selection of resupply and odds and ends for sale. The first thing I did was get a pizza and a soda. I did the best I could with the family sized pizza, having eaten next to nothing all day I think I did a fairly good job, and I got 2 more sodas. This was the first Mountain Dew I’ve seen on this side of America. It was soooo good. There were about 6 dogs roaming around, one particularly cute one who spent every second of the day chasing the ball and he would come and put the ball on my shoes so I would throw it. We played this game over and over. 

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I had been getting really limited cell service and I was hoping to use the WiFi to do a bunch of updating for the blog and for YouTube, but the WiFi was barely functioning and I could do hardly anything. It took about 10 minutes to upload a picture to Instagram. I quickly gave up on the idea of getting it all up to date and resigned myself to the fact I’m just going to have to let the blog slip behind. There was nothing else I could do. I know the pictures on previous posts hadn’t loaded properly, but that’s because a) the WordPress app is shit and b) the WiFi is shit. 

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So I went to take a shower instead. You get given a towel and there was a whole bunch of soaps and hair stuff left in the shower. I shampooed my hair twice and then panicked when the water went cold and I still had a head full of shampoo. Just as I had resigned myself to it being cold the hot water kicked back in again. 

I didn’t really have time to do laundry so I sniff tested everything. Well not everything. I condemned my knickers and socks to a ziplock and stuffed them at the bottom of my bag for when I get the chance to do laundry. I have clean ones I can put on. But I sniffed the shorts and the top and they both smell pretty gross. The pits are particularly revolting. But here’s the bit I was surprised about and the bit you’re not going to believe. The sports bra smelt as fresh as a daisy, like it had just come out of the packet. Weird considering I had all sorts of plant material and squashed bugs stuck to my boob skin, but the bra smelt great. A small win. 

After looking in the mirror I saw I had all those bug bite all over my face too, but thankfully they were just lumps not bit red lumps, and unlike the ones on my legs I hadn’t scratched them until they bled. After a shower all the bites start itching at the same time. 

I put my sleep top on and wrapped a towel around my bottom half. I still didn’t have a brush or a comb to use, but I had been able to use conditioner which was an improvement from the last shower. It’s still a matted mess but now it’s a clean matted mess. 

I rinsed our my bandana and hat in the sink as these two things were particularly gross. 

I was going to leave my resupply to the morning but I decided to get the agony out of the way. My choices were limited. I already had two packets of ramen left over and a packet of tuna so I got a packet of fake Cheetos, 4 packets of grandmas cookies, 4 string cheeses, and 4 blueberry muffins (breakfast) to get me through the next two days. I can’t believe they didn’t have any candy or chocolate. Well they had peanut m&ms but they are gross. 

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I went to bed at 9pm hoping to get this written and be asleep quickly but a man stared talking to me and I didn’t want to be rude and not talk. He was a nice man and we ended up chatting for half an hour or so and as a result it’s now 10:30pm which is way past my bedtime. 

My legs feel fine but my feet are throbbing. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 15

 

 

 


 

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