May 27th 2018
Little Laurel shelter – Hogback Ridge Shelter (mile 316.9)
22.8 miles
Total miles: 326.9


I slept so badly. The guy next to me, whom I can’t remember the name of, and I’ve now left it too long to ask, slept the opposite way around to everyone else, so his feet were near my head. He didn’t stop moving – all night long. Constant shuffling on his noisy air mat and his feet seemed to move more than any other part of his body. A few times I had his quilt on my face. The snoring on the other hand wasn’t a problem at all. I tried to put in those foam earplugs to block out the shuffling noise but they just don’t stay in my ears. 

I was up, packed and ready to go by 7am. Just as I was leaving one of the section hikers discovered that his food bad had been chewed through and his gorp had been munched on. I’ve met a few hikers with Zpacks food bags and none of us have had any problems with rodents, they are good bags and worth the money. 

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It was a nice day for a change. The sky was clear and the sun was streaming through the trees. It was hot though so the sweat was real. My first goal was to get to the next water source and when I got there a dog was barking and a woman came over to me. I instantly recognised her from some drama that went down in the AT Facebook group (my number one piece of advice for future hikers – don’t go anywhere near the facebook groups). There are two women, who let’s just say aren’t your atypical hikers, who say they are thru-hiking. They have been spotted trying to get money and gear off people by making up stories that they have lost their money or had it stolen. Nothing I have heard about them has been positive. They started the trail on March 8th, and now, May 27th they have made it 300 miles. 300 miles in 2.5 months?

The girl told me they had no food left. She never asked me for any and I didn’t offer her any. It is only 14 miles to the next road so they aren’t stuck in the middle of nowhere without food. They said they packed 6 days of food but they were so hungry they ate it in 3 days. It looked like they would be able to survive a considerable amount of time without food anyway. The guy whose name I can’t remember, let’s just call him red shirt man, he doesn’t have Facebook but he was there for this exchange. Without me telling him anything about them he said it sounded like a rehearsed speech that that have used time over. He checked the two dogs looked ok and we moved on quickly. 

I hiked behind him for a while as we walked along a big rocky ridge line. It was slow going because it was rocky and still wet in some places so it was slippery, but there were some beautiful views at the top. There is an alternate route you can take if the weather is bad, I definitely wouldn’t want to be up there if it was raining. I stopped to take some pictures then I passed red shirt guy taking a break. I expected that he would pass me again at some point during the day. 

After that I just plodded on, through the forest, occasionally breaking out into an open bit. There was a fair amount of uphill for the first 10 miles and it was slow going, even the downhills were a bit rocky and slow but the trail did mellow out a little and became a little easier. 

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I stopped once to eat some cheese and crisps but other than that I just kept going. With about 6 miles to go I crossed a road where there was a sign for a hostel 150 yards away advertising pizza and soda. So tempting. But I needed to carry on. 

With 5 miles to go I had a brief sit next to a creek and filled up my water. I had done well with my water consumption today, about 2.5 litres, which still wasn’t enough for the amount I’ve been sweating but it’s better than normal. I rinsed my bandana in the creek because it was full of sweat and starting to get a bit stinky. The last 5 miles were so tough. I was tired and so hungry. A tiny bit of rain came but it was just a sprinkle. In the distance were constant rumbles of thunder and I just had to hope the storm didn’t roll in before I got to camp. 

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I kept looking at the gps with disbelief that I had only moved 0.2 of a mile. No one had overtaken me yet, I wondered where they had all got to. I felt weak, hungry, tired and sore.

After walking for 11 hours and 15 minutes I finally made it to the shelter. My feet hurt and the top of my neck / shoulders was really sore. There were a bunch of tents pitched and the first person I saw was Buzzy! He had done a 36 mile day to get here. 

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I went to see if there was any room in the shelter and there was one space left so I took the chance on it. I made the other half of my knorr rice side and this time there was some flavour to it. It seems all the flavour was in this half and yesterday’s half didn’t have any of the flavour which is why it was so gross. I ate it but it wasn’t enough. I should have had a whole one. 

I went down to get water which was 0.2 of a mile away so a 0.4 mile round trip that I could have really done without! But without a pack it’s not too bad. I had just packed everything up and got everything organised when red shirt guy turned up. He was about an hour after me and said he had taken an hour break so we are on about the same pace. He found it tough today too and he was out of Aleve so I gave him a few of mine. 

Just as I’m about to get into my sleeping bag Buzzy comes over and tries to light a fire so he can cook his food. He is a disaster. His fire is crap, it’s no better than holding a lighter under the pot, and he spills noodles and flavour packets everywhere. He is a mess but he’s an entertaining mess. He tells us stories of the last few days, when he camped on the highway and when he commandeered a canoe at Fontana and paddled out to the houseboats looking for beer. It took him a good hour to cook his ramen noodles. 

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One of the section hikers in the shelter showed Buzzy how to make a beer can stove and Buzzy was overjoyed. He tried to make one out of a crushed can which of course didn’t work but he gave it a go. I have a feeling this isn’t the last I’ll see of Buzzy. 

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The rain rolled in and I’m glad I’m in the shelter, even if we have already seen the mouse scurrying around. As I’m writing this, it’s about 9:20pm and a person shows up. “Is there any room in here?” As I’m the only one awake I reply no sorry. He says “hey is that Puff Puff? It’s Pebbles.”. Pebbles is the guy who just appeared in the shelter the other day. He’s done a 33 mile day to get here. 

All these people I’ve been meeting are totally bonkers but they are all nice people. 

The thunder seems to have stopped but the rain is coming in waves. I am lying here feeling absolutely starving.


BRAND NEW VIDEO!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here, this is the first one I have uploaded since I have finished the trail: DAY 19

 

 

 


 

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