What a day.
We hiked a mile from the shelter down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for a big breakfast at the River’s End Restaurant. It was nothing short of amazing and we both devoured the Class V breakfast, the biggest plate they had. I had sweet potato pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, homefries, grits, and orange juice. I’ll admit, even if I wasn’t thru-hiking, I could probably come close to eating all of that food, but as a hiker, you don’t leave the table feeling bloated or guilty. Or at least that’s the only difference I felt.
We had a long uphill hike today to Cheoah Bald. 8 miles uphill and 4013 feet of vertical gain. Holy smokes was that a climb and a half! There were several steep sections and there was still snow in some spots. By the time we reached the top, I was super tired. We were going to camp further down the trail, but the sunny bald and views from it were too good to pass up. I sat in the tent for awhile as the sun beat down on it. It was like a sauna in there, which was perfect since I’ve been cold in camp for days.
Today was a tough day psychologically. The steep climbs all day, fatigue, and getting nervous about how cold and snowy the Smokies may be were all perfect reasons to call it a day earlier than we had planned. I’m thankful for the rest and I know my left foot is as well. Here’s to hoping for a good night’s sleep and a beautiful sunrise view from the bald in the morning. This is by far the best camp spot yet.