June 1st 2018
Overmountain Shelter – Mountaineer Shelter (mile 403.6)
18.6 miles
Total miles: 414.4


It was so dark in the barn I was worried I wouldn’t wake up early and I would just carry on sleeping. But my body is programmed to wake up at 6am or just before so I deflated my mat and packed up as quietly as you can when hiking – which isn’t quietly at all because everything you own rustles.

I went downstairs to sort out my stuff and someone was smoking a cigarette at 6:15am. Gross. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. I was hiking up the side trail at 6:35am and back on the AT at 6:40am. I was on a mission this morning. A mission to stay ahead of certain people and a mission to get to town as quickly as possible so I could eat real food. It’s not really town, it’s a hostel with a food truck which according to reviews has the best burger on the trail. It was 9.5 miles to get there.

It was uphill to start with. Up to Little Hump mountain and then up to Hump mountain. It was climbing, which I’m not much of a fan of, but these climbs were different to other climbs. They were out of the trees with beautiful views all around. In-a-Rush passed me early on and he blazed his way up and over in a flash. I was determined to stay ahead of the others. So I huffed and puffed my way up to the top of Little Hump. It felt good up there but I couldn’t relax yet. There was still another climb. 

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But first a descent and it took me back into the trees, and then through some very muddy patches. I was using energy trying to avoid all the water and mud and in the end I just ploughed straight through it. It’s easier to just get your feet wet than faff about trying to find dry bits to jump on. 

As I passed through Bradley Gap the wind really started to pick up. It was blowing into my left side and came close to knocking me over a few times. It battered me all the way up but it was worth it. I was back to feeling like a badass champion of the world at the top. Despite the wind the weather was perfect. Semi-sunny and not too hot. And the views were 360 degrees all around.  It was a great moment. 

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Now the rest of the trail was all downhill to the road. It wasn’t straightforward as there were some really rocky bits and some bits where I got confused about where the trail went, but I can be speedy on the downhill and I was soon back into the forest where the trail mellowed and became less rocky. 

I got to the road just before 10:30am which I was pleased with as that’s pretty much on my PCT pace. The hostel was a short 0.3 mile road walk and when I arrived it didn’t disappoint. The food truck wasn’t open yet, it opened for lunch which was ok. It gave me time to get a dirty Mountain Dew, stock up on some resupply, do some life admin, play with the dogs and the goat. Yes. The goat. Charge my electronics and wash out my stinky bandana. And have 3 poos. I needed a poo for the last few miles and it was such a relief. 

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I was chatting with Moon about the bubble we seem to have found ourselves in and he wasn’t keen on it either. He didn’t like all the smoking and he said that they could have taken themselves off somewhere else to do it. A bit like farting I said. You could do that somewhere else too. He got the message and apologised. He said that hiking and hiking food was doing weird things to his body. Yeah, it does weird things to everyone’s bodies but it shouldn’t effect your manners! 

Around 12:30pm the food truck opened and the burger I got was delicious. Really delicious. I went for a chicken Teriyaki burger. Bun. Mayonnaise. Tomato. Lettuce. Chicken breast. Teriyaki sauce. Pineapple. Bun. It was so good. I had quite a lot of it around my face but I ate all of it. Even the tomato. 

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I was glad I had given myself a bit of time before hiking on because I was so full. I felt so good and yet I felt so bad at the same time. I was so full yet I was so full. I went into a bit of a food coma and then just as I was packing up to hike out the nice lady at the hostel gave me a free bit of carrot cake. It was good cake and I ate most of the bottom and then donated the rest to my fellow hikers because the frosting was covered in walnuts. 

The place was really nice and had the timing been different it would have been a really nice place to stay. The hostel was so clean and the people running it really understood what hikers needed and they were really friendly. They have a small general store on site. It is quite expensive, plus there is 9.75% sales tax in Tennessee, but it’s convenient. And convenience comes at a price. I did draw the line at paying 11 dollars for a mountain house meal though. That’s too much. 

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I ended up leaving at 2:15pm. Fifteen minutes later than planned. This afternoon was hot and there was a bit of climbing. We passed through some meadow areas which are always a bit of a heat trap. I found it slow going and my burger was sitting somewhere near the top of my throat. I took it slowly and easy. I played leapfrog a couple of times with Moon, and I passed a couple of other hikers along the way. After climbing up for a couple of miles the trail started to descend and I knew there were a bunch of people around, so it was difficult to stop for a wee. But I’d drunk a bunch of Gatorade so it seems that always makes me wee more. There came a point where I just had to stop and hope for the best. I managed to get away with it this time. 

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I stopped half way down to take a side trail to see a waterfall. Jones falls. I’m a bit funny about waterfalls. Once you have seen really spectacular ones like Victoria Falls, most of the others don’t really live up to that. But this one turned out to be a pretty nice one and worth the little side trip. 

Passed the official 400 mile mark but of course having done the approach trail, this is always a bit behind the times. 

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For the last few miles I hiked with a guy called Maslow. He was quizzing me about my lifestyle, I think he’s searching for something similar. He told me about his 5 year plan. I told him I’ve never had a five year plan, more like a 5 day plan. So much can happen in 5 years I have no idea how you can plan for it! So we discussed a whole bunch of stuff which at least made the time go quickly and he ended up going further than he had intended to.

I went to the shelter to have a look. It was pretty full already. In-a-Rush was there but he was the only one I knew. I could smell weed and there were some really loud guys there. At least 2 of them looked like snorers. I could decide what to do. Stay in the shelter or pitch my tent. I laid my stuff out in the shelter and then went to get water from the top of the waterfall. I wasn’t very hungry so I ate one of the muffins from my resupply.   

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My resupply was pretty terrible:
4 x Twix
2 x tiny bags of Doritos
2 x cliff bars
2 x belvita breakfast bars
2 x choc chip muffins
2 x tuna packets
3 x fruit snacks
1 x ramen (plus 2 packets left over from my last resupply)
1 x knorr pasta side 

That’s got to last me 3/4 days. Hopefully 3. 

The loudness of the people in the shelter made me change my mind about sleeping in the shelter and I went to join Maslow who was camping. I will get a much better nights sleep in my tent, plus, that’s why I’m carrying the bloomin thing. So I set up and got cosy.

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It’s been a good day. 11.5 hours, over 18 miles with a 3.75 hour break in the middle. Good food. Nice hike. And plenty of time to lie down at the end of the day. I don’t have cell service but Maslow does. He’s been on the phone for over an hour now. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 24

 

 


 

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