Thursday, May 09, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Standing Bear Farm Hostel To Hot Springs, NC

I'm moving from bubble to bubble.  As I take nero and zero days I leave everyone behind ... well actually they leave me behind.  This makes the social game of the Appalachian Trail (AT) a bit difficult and makes the trail feel isolating and lonely.

My first bubble is way ahead of me. I liked most of those people.  Only Curry, who has had knee issues, is behind me.  My second bubble didn't click with me.  My third had some good people who I liked but they too are ahead of me.  The latest one was, frankly, too old.  I prefer a younger group who doesn't discuss retirement or losses in their families.  Younger people are more positive and supportive.

I have been told there are a few bubbles behind me.  Not sure if they will catch up with me.  If they do, will we find something in common?

An orange salamander sharing the wet trail.
Day 33 - The blueberry pancakes were not ready yet when I left the Hostel.  My first mistake of the day.  The other mistake was not waiting out the rain.

I climb up the trail in pouring rain.  I'd thought I might do a fifteen mile day but the river that was the trail, and my wet cold self, convinced me to go for my planned stop of 6.9 miles (11.1 km).

I arrive early to the shelter and stripped off my wet clothes and put on some dry things to help me warm up.  The weather got better but I decided to stay anyway.

Day 34 - This morning started out cloudy but dry.  The trail was still slow going due to the muddy swampy conditions left by the rain.  I started out really slow this day.

The view from Max Patch.
The highlight of today's hike was summiting Max Patch (formerly Mack's Patch).  The summit had been cleared of trees to allow the grazing of cattle.  The view from the summit, despite the low clouds, was superb.  As I stood taking it in the Sun made an appearance.  As I walked over the summit I expected to see Julie Andrews proclaiming the hills were alive with the sound of music.

After Max Patch I got a second wind and finished the 13.1 mile (21.1 km) target for the day.  The shelter was small and a bit rundown so I tented for the fourth time on the AT.

For my Mom: Closest thing to a Maiden Hair Fern that I could find.
Days 35 & 36 - I had another 13.1 miles to do to get to Hot Springs, NC.  Most of this was down.  A never-ending down.  While I started off strong I finished with a whimper.

The AT symbol marking the trail in Hot Springs.
I was almost out of water and my legs and feet were sore from the pounding when I arrived in town.  The AT runs right down the town's main street.  I arrived at my hotel where I'd made a reservation a few days ago.  They had texted me my room number and a code.  Turns out the code opened a lock box next to the door with my key in it.   I ended up checking in and out without actually talking to a real person.

I checked out the town and got some food - not easy to do when three of the four restaurants were closed for one reason or another.  I did eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's while I did laundry.

On the second day I slept in a little and had a good breakfast. I resupplied at the outfitter and Dollar General.  Since I was in a town named Hot Springs I soaked in a mineral springs hot tub.  I bought a sleeve for my cranky left foot.  Just a bunch of town and trail related stuff.

Today, after this posts, I will return to the trail.  It is tough leaving the comfort of the town.  At times it seems all I think about when on the trail is getting to the next town.  I can't say this is the right attitude and it may just be a passing phase but it has been tough at times to keep positive.

A comment about statistics.  25% of thru-hikers quit by Neel Gap (day four for me).  45 to 50% have quit by Hot Springs.  The odds are getting better that I'll make it all the way.  Barring an unexpected injury, the only thing in my way is my mental state.   The past few days have been tough for me.  All I can say is I am here to finish and I will keep on keeping on.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 284.81 Miles (458.36 km)
Section Distance: 34.56 Miles (55.62 km)
Section Elevation Up: 8,105 ft (2,470 m)
Section Elevation Down: 8,721 ft (2,658 m)


NOTE: I have corrected a day numbering issue in the last few posts.

3 comments:

  1. Bruce, I am confused. Are you back on the trail this year?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, this is Blue Bunny asking you if you are back on the trail I'm 2019?

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    2. Yes, I am back on the trail. I'm currently in Erwin, TN.

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