Today’s mileage: 16.8
Total mileage: 375.8
Today was a big day for us. We have been on the AT for one month!!! It sure flew by and yet it seems like Springer Mountain was so long ago. We’ve learned a lot, hiked a lot, and have met a lot of people.
The day started out cloudy with a chance of rain, but it held off and cleared out as the day went on. There were many ascents and descents today before we got to Roan Mountain, the last ascent of the day. I think it’s only fitting that we celebrate one month on the trail by tenting near the highest shelter on the AT. I believe Roan is our last 6,000 footer until Mt. Washington, which will also be our last.
We didn’t see too many hikers today. It’s back to what it was like before we got into Erwin. It seems that you run into a lot of people as you come out of town before everyone starts to spread out.
My knee felt pretty good today and even my blisters didn’t bother me. But there’s always something it seems. Today it was a sore right quad and calf muscle. The soreness must be related to my knee troubles because it’s only on the right side. If I stopped for a break or sat down for a few minutes, my quad especially felt really sore. I just can’t win. Everyday it’s a new pain or an old injury coming back again. I don’t let it slow me down, but I wonder if there will ever be a day out here when not one part of my body is in pain.
Despite the fact that Roan Mountain is large and in charge, the 4 mile climb wasn’t bad at all. The switchbacks were very gradual and even the steeper section near the top wasn’t bad either. We made good time coming up Roan. Despite my injuries, I do feel like a stronger hiker than when I started. It was beautiful near the top as we hiked through a forest with water dripping off boulders and the sun peaking through the trees. Steam rolled off our backs as we entered the cool, dark woods. We enjoyed the respite from the heat as we reached the top where we didn’t find a view, but a small rabbit sitting in a meadow. We also encountered our arch nemesis again today: ice. In some of the shadier areas, there was still some ice and snow. Nothing like what we’ve dealt with before, but Miles did manage to fall on a patch of ice on our way to the shelter. He also took a digger earlier in the day when he fell down log stairs. He slipped on one and all I saw was his head disappear all of a sudden. It looked pretty serious from where I was, but he ended up being okay. Just some scratches on his arm and probably a bruise tomorrow. He really upped his monthly fall count today, much to his dislike.
We reminisced on the past month tonight and looked back through photos and journal entries. We talked about our first day, our worst day, our favorite mountains, and our favorite trail locale names. We laughed hysterically at ridiculous photos we took, videos we made, and quotes from my journal. It’s strange looking back at us on our first day before we started the approach trail. Miles was clean shaven and we were wild with enthusiasm. Now, one month later, Miles may have more facial hair, but our enthusiasm has not waned and we remain dedicated and emotionally invested in our journey.
I really can’t believe we’ve been hiking for an entire month. I dreamed about this trip for so long, but I never could have imagined how I would feel after being out here for almost 5 weeks. We really feel like thru-hikers now. Our gear doesn’t look brand new anymore, our clothes permanently smell, and our guide book is well worn and stained with dirt where we have turned the pages so many times. I’ve gotten used to sleeping on a not-so-soft sleeping pad, I haven’t shaved in a month, and I can successfully hang a bear bag.
Spring is most definitely here and we hope we’re lucky enough to keep on hiking all the way into a New England summer.