Day 20: Newfound Gap to Pecks Corner Shelter

We started the day off right with an all-you-can-eat buffet at Bennett’s. Despite the bad rep buffets can have, this was one was really good and very clean I might add. We ate with Hiccup and Forge and all of us easily downed two plates of food each.

We got a ride back up to Newfound Gap from Beth and Bernie. I was lucky enough to ride in the front with them rather than the back of the truck. We had a nice ride through the park talking about the trail and past thru-hikers that they had met. They gave us all a doughnut before we set off on the trail for the day. A Dunkin Donuts Boston Creme wasn’t a bad way to start my hike today. To future thru-hikers, I hope you get to meet Beth and Bernie. They went above and beyond the call of duty as far as trail magic goes.

After we passed by the tourists hiking up from the gap, we were greeted again with ice and snow. But guess what? I decreased my falling rate by 100% today. Zero falls! There was plenty of ice today too. Miles did fall today however. No ice involved, just some slipping action on a rock. I found him laying face down on the ground as I approached him up the trail and we both laughed.

The hiking today was phenomenal. We were hiking high upon the ridges of the northern half of the Smokies. It was a clear, beautiful day for us too. Today I felt like we really got to witness the wilderness of the park. It’s sad to see the dying hemlocks however dotting the mountains as we hiked. We’ve only got another day here in the Smokies, so we’re really trying to soak it all in. We went out to Charlie’s Bunion today as well.

Unfortunately, my feet were in some serious pain today. I have heard that your feet can swell up when thru-hiking, so I’m thinking mine have, hence the continuing pain in my feet. I’ve got this painful blister on the bottom of my right heel and my big toe was starting to hurt again too. I have been hiking with the original insoles plus Spenco insoles to support my arches. I took out the Spenco ones today to make some more room for my feet. That helped alleviate the above problems, but without the added cushioning, my feet really started to hurt. It really slowed me down today too. I’m thinking about switching up the insoles tomorrow and possibly getting some new shoes in Hot Springs. I feel like after hiking over 200 miles, my shoes should be broken in and not causing new blisters and pain in my feet. It might be time to switch to trail runners, which is what I wanted to hike in originally anyways.

Looks like rain here all day tomorrow. Hoping to get an early start and get ahead of some of the hikers in the overcrowded shelter.

As we were hiking today, I overheard a little girl mention some words of wisdom to her dad as she jumped all over trail and not taking the straightforward route.

She smiled as she told her dad, “the fun part is also the hard part!”

Ain’t it the truth.

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