May 30th 2018
Uncle Johnny’s hostel – piped spring (mile 365.2)
21.4 miles
Total miles: 375.2


I slept reasonably well. There were no noises but it was so so hot. There was a fan blowing but it didn’t seem to make that much difference. I couldn’t leave until 8am because that’s when the store opened and I had to settle my bill. So I woke naturally at 6 but gave myself a nice lie in until 7am. What a treat. 

I went out of the hostel to use the bathroom and when I went back in a wall of stale smelly air hit me. Wet stinky hiker stuff. Gross. I saw that Buzzy had pitched his tent on the porch and Pebbles had hung his hammock over the picnic tables. They are as bad as each other. 

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Everyone was commenting on the river this morning. It was absolutely raging. It had risen about 10ft overnight and it was nearing the bottom of the bridge. Trees we could see the bottoms of yesterday were being battered by the water. So much debris was cascading down, whole trees, massive logs, rubbish and plastic bottles all being washed downstream. It really was quite a sight. 

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After a bit of procrastinating, I packed out a Gatorade and set off on my way. It was drizzling a bit but the weather wasn’t suppose to be too bad today. I walked over the bridge then over the railway lines where I saw a little tortoise right next to the tracks. I considered moving him but I imagined he would just crawl back so I let him be. 

Although it wasn’t raining the trail was wet from all the rain in the night. There were huge muddy puddles and I just resigned myself to having wet feet. The first climb was really mellow, much different to what we have been walking up, and the forest seemed to take on a different feeling. The trail was nice and wide, a bit rocky and tree rooty in places but otherwise a very pleasant walk. It got really steep on the last climb up to the shelter but at least the climbs are short. 

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I stopped briefly at the shelter to eat some cheese and crisps. I didn’t stay long. There was a nice girl there and a section hikers who I met at the hostel but there were also three guys there all talking about how much alcohol they were drinking, how many drugs they were taking and how many women they were shagging (I’d be surprised if the last one was higher than zero). They weren’t my cup of tea so I moved on. 

There is a shelter 17 miles into the day and I imagine they will all be staying there. I would like to push on past the shelter and that’s a big incentive to do it. I climbed up to a grassy bald named Beauty Spot. There were minimal views. The weather was quite odd today. It was everything all rolled into one. The sun was shining, it was misting, the rain was sprinkling, it was windy and cold and hot at the same time. Thankfully the rain held off on top of the Bald but with hardly any views there wasn’t much point staying up there for long. 

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Down the other side I caught up to Moon who left the hostel about half an hour before me. I got some water and ate some more cheese and crisps and carried on hiking. A couple of section hikers I had met at the hostel, who gave me some ziplock bags, gave me another nice treat – some guacamole on a pita bread. Oh it was so good. That was a real treat. I chatted to them for a little while. I think their names were Maverick and Silver Fox. 

The trail then continued to climb up to Unaka Mountain. The forests changed again and there were some switchbacks to get up there which was nice. In fact there have been more switchbacks today than on the whole trail so far. As I climbed the forests became more mossy and piney. About half way there was a tree decorated with all sorts of odd things. It turns out it is a memorial for someone who died in 2016. I carried on to the top, which is unremarkable and covered in trees. Moon was there and we hiked down the other side together. 

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It made a nice change to have someone to talk to for a bit and it made the downhill go a lot quicker than it would had I been on my own. Although Moon moves more slowly than I do on the downs. He is much faster than me uphill though but it means our pace evens out throughout the day. 

He obviously had some bad wind as there were some terrible smells being released. I stayed silent but really I should have said something, like at least give me a warning! When we got to the bottom of the downhill he stopped for a wee and I carried on the mile and a half to the shelter. I was bursting for a wee by the time I got there and I dumped my pack, shouted hello to the boy there and ran behind the shelter to release my bladder before I had a nasty accident. 

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It was only 4:15pm. Too early to justify stopping. So after eating some more cheese and crisps I decided to hike on another 4.5 miles to get to a piped spring where there are spaces for tents. I think Moon will hike on too. I was feeling really good and confident about the remaining miles. It was a bit chilly when I left the shelter and I rolled down my sleeves and zipped up my top. About 30 seconds into the climb I was unzipping my top and rolling up my sleeve and sweating profusely from my face once again. 

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It was nice having clean clothes for a few hours. Everything stinks again and my lovely clean fresh bandana is now smelly and full of sweat. The last 0.8 of a mile to the camp site seemed to drag on a bit and the small climb felt like it was never going to end but I made it to the site. When I got there I need to wee so badly I only just prevented another accident. I think it’s the Gatorade that’s doing that. 

It wasn’t a wonderful campsite and I was contemplating going further but I don’t think it would benefit me in the long run and staying here seemed to be a good choice. Moon arrived and he said he was staying here so I decided to stay too. 

We ate dinner together and I had my mountain house meal. Those things are so expensive but at least I can force them down. Moon said that all the meat and dairy he ate in town had given him bad gas and I should have said “I KNOW, it was in my face during that down hill!!” But instead I just said “Oh, really?” 

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I got all set up in my tent, it was nice to be in my tent again, I feel like there have been so many shelters recently that I haven’t used my tent for weeks. Just as I was about to get out and have a wee a girl arrived. The one I saw at the shelter this morning. 

It is nice to have my own space. I’ve treated myself by taking off my sports bra this evening. It’s pretty windy out but I think we a sheltered down here in this little dip. There might be some condensation. 

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Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 22

 

 

 


 

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