Today’s mileage: 20.7
Total mileage: 335.7
Miles and I are now officially members of the 20-miler club! Our feet sure did hurt by the end of the day, but we don’t regret the long hike one bit. It was a beautiful day after all.
When we got to Sams Gap after hiking for a couple of miles, ’07 and ’09 thru-hiker, Quiet Paul, was serving up breakfast to passing hikers. He cooked up a mean breakfast of scrambled eggs, hash browns, and homemade muffins. It was absolutely delicious and was perfect to help fuel us up Big Bald. Unfortunately, there were a few hikers there that had gotten the stomach flu the night before, so I stayed away as far as I could from them. I’m not taking any chances with this bug.
Fueled from our second breakfast, we hiked to the top of Big Bald with Mouse and Teflon, two of our new friends from Colorado. It had rained a bit this morning and had remained cloudy as well. Just as we made it to the summit, the clouds cleared away and sun and blue skies suddenly appeared. It was seriously amazing and one of those moments in life when you wonder if it’s real. Suddenly, we could see for miles as we looked out across the grassy bald. We took a break up here and soaked in the sun. As we hiked up the bald, I felt like I was a character in Wuthering Heightson the English moors. A bald isn’t exactly a moor, but for some reason, it reminded me of that extremely depressing novel. And I’m not so sure I would want to be any of the characters in that story. I like being my happy hiker self much better.
From the Bald Mountain Shelter, we still had about 11 miles left until the end of our day and it was already 2:00 PM. Did I mention that we’re usually the last people to leave camp in the morning? We usually leave somewhere between 8:45 and 9:15. We would both like to start earlier, but our internal clocks think differently. I actually hate getting up early and with the type of work that I do (video editing), I’m used to staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning. I’m slowly adjusting to waking up early and I hope that eventually we’ll be able to start around 8 instead or 9 or later. The good thing is that while we may be the last ones to leave in the morning, but we’re usually some of the first to arrive at camp in the evening. We usually hike three hours in the morning, eat, hike for another three hours, eat again, hike to camp, eat, sleep, and repeat. And of course we take more breaks depending on the summits, views, and trail magic we encounter.
We booked it from Little Bald once we heard that a couple we had just passed had been sick with the flu the night before. I felt like Katniss Everdeen trying to avoid other Hunger Games competitors as we tried to distance ourselves from the duo attempting to plague us with their disease. I’m not sure what district they were from. And apparently today’s theme is “Compare Your Hike to a Book” Day. That and adapting song lyrics to thru-hiking. Oh and changing movie quotes too. You know, we have a lot of time out here. My favorite adaptation so far is a quote from Princess Leia from Star Wars when she insults Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, and now my go-to insult to Miles.
“Why, you scruffy-looking thru-hiker!” It’s supposed to be nerf-herder, but we like our quotation better. Enough of my thru-hiker adapted pop culture references. Back to nature.
We were lucky enough to hit double trail magic today. At Spivey Gap, ’03 thru-hiker, Snotrocket and his 5 year-old son, Kade, were about to set out a cooler of Cokes and candy bars for thru-hikers passing through. We ended up talking to him for a bit and he took our picture to show his wife, Dingleberry, who had thru-hiked with him. Sherpa, I mentioned your name to him and he said your trail name sounded familiar.
My feet were killing me and we still had 4.7 miles to the shelter. The Coke and chocolate really helped me push through the last few miles of the day. The hiking out of the gap was absolutely beautiful. The sun cast a golden glow on the gleaming rhododendrons and we walked across several streams with crisp white rock beds. If there had been any camping spots, I would have loved to stay there for the night. We made it to the shelter just before 8:00 PM. Certainly our longest day yet. We brought up some sodas and candy bars to Mouse and Teflon since they had missed the trail magic by only a minute or two. I think it made their day. I sure know it made mine.