Today proved to be the exact opposite of yesterday in terms of both weather and mileage. With an almost full day of rest behind us, we got an early start (for us) around 8:00 AM and hiked 17.8 miles. The snow and ice continued for another few miles and once we got below 6,000 ft, it all disappeared. The trail was quite muddy for the rest of the hike, but I’ll take that over ice any day. We passed a plane wreckage along the trail, which was really interesting. It appeared to be an older plane, so I’m curious as to the details of the crash.
We made good time today and hiked almost 9 miles by noon. It didn’t even feel like we were hiking that fast, so maybe we’re starting to get our trail legs? Well, we’ll see about that. The lower part of my shin began to hurt after our first big uphill of the day about halfway through our hike. Could be a shin splint, but I’m really not sure. It continued to hurt, but I really didn’t have any choice but to keep on hiking. Still hurts as I lay here in my sleeping bag. I feel like everyday I have a new ache, pain, or injury. After fixing the issue with my insoles yesterday, I was looking forward to a pain-free hike today. Now I wonder if that will ever happen. I also realized that the continuing pain in my right knee is not from my fall last week, but must be from downhills putting the wear and tear on it. I’m thinking it’s more than from the fall because usually bruises aren’t sore for almost 10 days.
Other than my repertoire of injuries, we feel great out here! Today we exited the Smokies for good. As beautiful as the Smokies are, we were so ready to leave the snow, ice, and cold. It’s looking like spring is finally here and we are so ready for it. We’ve been out here for three weeks enduring cold nights, frozen boots, and icy hikes. I think we’ve been toughing it out long enough, don’t you? I didn’t need to leave Maine to do the hiking that we’ve been doing down here in the South. But enough about the cold. I can’t believe we’ve been hiking for three weeks! We’ve hiked 240.8 miles and will be hiking along the NC/TN border for another 150 miles until we cross over into Tennessee where we’ll hike for about 70 miles before going into Virginia.
Tonight, we’re staying at Standing Bear Farm, a hostel just off the trail in Tennessee. We’re in the bunkhouse for the night. I got in a hot shower, did a bit of laundry, and we got a resupply here. Miles has a small, orange cat sleeping at the end of his bunk and I’m in heaven here as I listen to some Dave Matthews Band while updating this here blog. Unfortunately, the snoring has already started here. When will it end??? I have a feeling the answer is never. I’m liking the idea of secluded campsites more and more after having to sleep in shelters throughout the Smokies. Earplugs can only do so much for this girl. I’ve even started to pick out the snorers before their heads hit the pillow at night. I think I’ve found my calling.